Spring Chronicles: For real this time!

And here we go…………..

The mad rush that is spring, truly took new form these past several weeks.  With a never-ending to-do list here on the farm, preparing Micah to head north for the fishing season, and a more erratic weather pattern than a normal Colorado spring (if you can believe it), its been eventful to say the least- more on farmstead developments later….

Tomorrow is the first opener for the 2013 Copper River Season. Micah arrived in Cordova today after a five day journey north from Bellingham, WA to Cordova, AK on his brother Ashton’s new boat the Entanglement. He splashed his boat, the Midnight Express, and is headed out shortly.

The Midnight Express

The Midnight Express

This is the first year of 6, that I won’t be fishing. I can’t help but feel a little pang thinking about the excitement and anticipation as the town of Cordova prepares for the first opener. I am thinking about loading stinky nets with bits of entangled seaweed onto the real from the docks, and the smell of low tide.  The chaos of a dozen boats on trailers trying to splash from one ramp on the high tide, the fish stories circulating on the docks, engine talk (well, I won’t really miss that), stocking the boat, checking the safety gear, and catching up with old friends. Untying the boat and leaving the safety of the harbor for the first time of the year always made me feel so adventurous.  We would rush out amidst the fleet, risking skinny water and the shifting channels of the delta, high on anticipation and wonder.

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The rush for the opening set

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The Copper River delta at low tide

Then it would be 60 knot winds and 18 foot seas. Raining sideways, and 40 degrees.  And I would wonder what the hell I was thinking. Again.🙂

Best to go fishing a little later in the summer.

While I have missed my routine spring migration north, I have a new adventure here. A shift in migration toward planting roots and creating a new space and home. And spring has sprung.  A piece of me has gone up with Micah, just as a pice of him has stayed here, as we learn to fish and farm at the same time in the same hemisphere:)

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Onward!  Cheers to enjoying accomplishments as well as our plans!

XOXO

Spring Chronicles: Snow Day

Spring snow covers the full spectrum of blessing to curse.  The multiple personalities of spring in Colorado create a new challenge in the orchard and garden.  I imagine the roman god Boreas; the wind god of the north, and deliverer of winter- and Zephyrus; the wind god of the west and bringer of light and spring,  battling above for the last days of the fringe season. Its a nail biter of a scene, with lighting bolts and rain, and high winds blown from the inflated cheeks of the gods, eyebrows furrowed in determination and concentration.  I know the earth is turning, and eventually spring will prevail as our protagonist, but today as I wonder the orchard, Im still holding my breath.

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Most of our apricot blossoms fell victim to the last frost.  The early blooms were so beautiful and intoxicatingly fragrant, seeing them frozen and dwindle left me a little heavy-hearted.

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As a new mom of this farmstead, I wonder how much cold and snow the trees can take. I tell my peach trees to hold on, hoping they wait to bloom until the danger of frost has past. Will my starts survive another onslaught in the greenhouse? Especially after the previous frosts, a chew-and-walk-on-everything puppy, high winds tearing at the bones of the structure and a raccoon break in.

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And then I remember the blessing in the snow…water! The much needed water, here in the high desert.  I learn that apricots in this valley rarely make it all the way through the Colorado spring. I remember my personal struggle with trying to hold on to ephemeral nature, and that this IS the nature of this land. And its beautiful. I got to see and smell the apricot blossoms, a blessing in itself. Much of our effort will turn out a fruitful harvest, and many of our plants and trees wont make it, only to be tilled into the earth for another season.

On the weather roller-coasterIMG_0550Im still praying that Zephyrus deals a striking blow soon!

 

 

 

Spring Chronicles

Hello!

Out of hibernation and into the fire! Spring came on fast, seemingly without warning (yea right). We left Colorado to attend the Boston International Seafood Show in early March, and 10 days later (new puppy in tow) we came home to spring.  Swept away by the spring winds, the greening of fields and pastures,  blossoming trees, budding plants and the pressure of our first full season learning how to manage this wonderful new life.

Where to begin? Ducklings, chicks and a puppy…naturally.  On our way back from Boston, we picked up Ruby! The newest member of our family and man are we in LOVE.  A big softy, great companion and super helper with important tasks like…

pruning…IMG_0411

IMG_0422laundry…

 

 

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navigation…

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watching over the ducks.  IMG_0473 IMG_0491

 

 

She lightens our days, lifts our hearts, and slows us down to enjoy all that is puppyhood. She is growing so fast- I want her to stay a little wrinkly curiosity forever. And then I remember we might actually accomplish some farm chores once once she is trained up! What a terrible trade-off:)

Just before Easter, Micah and decided to buy 4 ducklings from a wonderful couple in Montrose. We left with 7 ducklings and 3 chicks. All teeny-tiny packed into a little cardboard box with a few holes punched in the sides. And man are they growing too!  I wish nature would just slow down a bit so I can observe it all…all the time.

We now have two runner ducks- hilarious and very sweet. They are yellow now, but will be changing soon. We also have two Khaki Campbells,  two Rouens (very feisty), and a beautiful Blue Swede.  Our three new chicks are Araucanas and hopefully will be laying blue eggs by fall!

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I know this post has way too many pictures, but I hope you enjoy them:)

M

Gratitude…

No better time to reflect on what makes our lives rich and full than a day called Thanks-Giving. And I am not talking about being full of rich food (which in itself is pretty awesome)!. It’s about the magic of earth, rain, and sun;  and labor of love that food is. Not just in this one meal we share with beloved friends and family, but as an annual symbol.

I’ll never forget last year at this time. Micah and I were fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving in the bottom of the Grand Canyon during an incredible rafting trip, with an incredible group of people, and an incredible traditional dutch oven meal.

I am hard pressed to find something more wonderful than sharing a meal with friends, family and especially Micah.                   Particularly with intent and focus on gratitude.

Enjoy the bustle in the kitchen, the spiced aromatic heat condensing on your face as you prepare the meal. Enjoy the arguments on whether or not the turkey is done, or how to carve it up.  Enjoy the conversation, laughter, prayers and expressions of gratitude. Enjoy your own feelings of gratitude and the fullness, love and contentment this brings. Enjoy every bite. Every drink of wine. Enjoy your memories of the year past and the possibilities to come. ENJOY DESSERT. Enjoy indulgence and being stuffed like the bird you just ate. Enjoy the comatose rest. Enjoy cleaning up, washing dishes talking about the amazing culinary accomplishments and how you can’t move because you’re so damn full. You can enjoy it all. Every moment.

This year I won’t be sharing thanksgiving with my family, but feel very blessed to have it in my own home for the first time.  Two wonderful friends of ours are coming over early for a day of cooking, eating, drinking and playing games. I can’t wait!

On the menu:

A local free range turkey brined in a locally pressed apple cider and spices (way to go Micah!)

Local apple and butternut squash stuffing, with home-baked bread and herbs from my garden

Justin’s mashed potatoes and gravy (from local potatoes and herbs of course)

Cranberry sauce from wild lingonberries Micah and I collected in Prince William Sound

Shelly’s homemade pumpkin pie with sugar pumpkins from Delicious Orchards

OMG Shelly’s homemade brie cheese!

Smoked king salmon Micah caught this year

Drunken spiced pears I made earlier this season

I know, I know… this is ridiculous. I am going to enjoy every moment.

More pics to come…

The not so forbidden fruit.

Trying to write a blog post about the apple is like trying to squeeze a blue whale into a bathtub.

The amazing honey-crisp apple.

The cultural and mythological importance of the apple alone merits multiple volumes…but for now, here’s just a little trivia.

Among the worlds most popular fruits, the apple is way beyond American as apple pie. In a wonderful book by Amy Traverso, The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, she documents the origins of the modern domestic apple to be along the Tien Shan mountain range in Kazakhstan, dating back 4.5 million years! No wonder the apple is so wonderful; all good things take time. Traverso describes this region as still home to many varieties of wild apples in “…all colors from yellow to deep purple…”

Can you imagine? A walk through the remote Tien Shan mountains surrounded by  rainbows of apples- like a walk through wonderland.

Granny Smith apple picking at Delicious Orchards.

This cozy little North Fork Valley in which we live, produces incredible amounts of fruit. Arriving here at the end of summer as the fruits began to ripen was like stepping into Eden. We gorged ourselves!…And haven’t really stopped.  The mad rush to enjoy the fruits of this valley’s womb (with the fear winter will come too soon) has really lasted quite awhile. When one variety “dries up” another ripens. I have been canning, drying and freezing like a banshee, so we can enjoy all the local organic fruit we can handle well into the winter months.

And now, it’s APPLE SEASON!

Paisley’s “Jackpot!”

This past weekend, we picked over 100 lbs of Honey Crisp and Granny Smith apples. Jonathans are slated for next week. Time to get busy! Apple sauce, apple butter, APPLE PIE, apple chips, apple brandy, apple jack, apple brandy, apple brandy…

Spiced apple brandy

Nothing compliments autumn like the apple. As I write this, our home is scented with the spiced aroma of apple butter slowly bubbling down, and a pie slowly bubbling up, baking in the oven. Life is good.

Happiness.

What else should we be doing?                                                          Nothing.

Meditations on Fall

McClure Pass- where’s the headless horseman?

We camped a few days ago on McClure pass (about 8,700ft) to catch the end of the aspens turning before winter’s grip takes all the leaves. I love Colorado camping in mid-October, although the turning leaves are a sure sign of the approaching winter.

There is nothing like being in an aspen grove in autumn when the wind blows. Time stops as the leaves swirl down- like coins falling through water. Autumn turns us inward. The natural world prepares for hibernation. Trees go dormant pulling their energy in and down.  Animals stockpile food, hibernate and migrate. Bees stop producing brood and cluster together in the hive beneath the stored honey.

Micah reading “The Backyard Orchardist” at our campsite

The leaves shimmer between sun and shadow.  The sound of the wind quaking the aspens fools me for running water. Decomposing leaves smell of wet earth with every crunch under my feet. The air turns crisp- time for wool. 

I always try to hold on to autumn, and the abundant contentment it brings – as if I can make it last just a little longer.  Fall seems the most ephemeral of seasons.  I think this is why I pay so close attention, because it can be gone overnight.

Were spinning fast into winter, but for now…for now its autumn. A time to breathe a little deeper.