flower time.

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we visited a friend in portland, or last weekend, which is a few hundred miles south of bellingham, and a few weeks ahead of us in the flower department. you can see where this is going. the trip undoubtedly included nighttime flower missions and the secret snapping of branches. it’s become quite the problem…

in addition to foraging for flowering branches, we did some other lovely, less illicit things while in portland. we went to the oregon coast on a half-sunny day to picnic and watch surfers. we ate some amazing food, which is difficult no to do in portland (the highlight was a scandinavian breakfast at broder’s.) and we made the requisite trip to powell’s books where i finally got my hands on a copy of Wilder Quarterly, an artful, brooklyn-based (of course) publication”for people enthralled by the natural and growing world.” it was inspiring to flip through, and to find an essay/interview with an oyster farmer on the damariscotta river!

this weekend, g is gone visiting his brother in tahoe.he was hoping to get in some spring skiing, but tahoe is strangely grey and wet these days, so they’ve gone to yosemite in search of sun. even more strange, the weather forecaster announced this morning that it will be “oppressively sunny” this weekend in northwest washington. i guess that’s my que to head to the islands.

 

to vancouver!

we’ve lived in northwest washington for two and a half years now, but had not once been to vancouver until just last weekend! we’d heard rumors of a big metropolis to the north, more akin to new york than seattle, with a bustling chinatown, and much more diverse population than white washington. we made a list of things to see and places to go, packed our passports and headed north to the border.

the sun was shining and the mountains were all around us. it’s a funny place, canada. something like an alternate universe, where everything is just ever so slightly…different. it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what.

we drove directly to gastown, an old part of downtown made of brick and cobblestone. it was sunday morning. shops were slow to open. we walked the quiet streets with coffee in hand, trying to get a sense of things. we walked through a street-turned-marketplace filled with homeless folks hawking their found wares, which were laid out on tarps. it seemed like the place to go for half-filled bottles of detergent and perfume, or miscellaneous power cords and crumpled clothing.

eventually we found our way to nelson the seagull, a spare, light-filled cafe specializing in crusty bread and espresso. we shared poached eggs on toast with a roasted tomato, and sat at a long, old table.

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other things happened too, but the hour spent watching passersby at nelson the seagull was a definite highlight, and the only thing i managed to snap a few photos of. from there, we went to granville island, which has the distinct feel of a theme park. the open-stall market was a maze of vegetables and fruits, fish and cheese, but felt a bit staged, and didn’t have the gritty quality of pike place. we visited a big public park with a tropical bird conservatory and walked through japanese gardens just beginning to bloom. then, onto chinatown for hand cut chinese noodles.we drove back at sunset, full of noodles and dumplings, and tired from miles of walking the city sidewalks.

it was a good day, and good way to travel. we didn’t have any real agenda or purpose other than to be in the city and get a good taste of it (literally and figuratively). i think we succeeded. oddly, i feel quite satisfied with our quick, one day vancouver adventure. i wouldn’t be opposed to going back–i’m sure there’s so much to do (it is a Big City, after all)–but i’m not very eager to. i guess i’m more of a small town gal.

on that note, we’re taking our third trip to portland, oregon this weekend. maybe cities just feel better when you know people in them.

a few good things.

a handful of things to share with you today:

  • this real time wind map of the us. so cool!
  • this beauty of a food blog
  • friends at sugarhouse creamery, where we spent new years 2013, are ramping up for the farming season. follow them and their two cute pups and one-eyed cat here: http://sugarhousecreamery.tumblr.com/
  • for my birthday, brother and boyfriend split the extravagant cost of this amazing scarf from blockshop textiles. i’m very eagerly awaiting its arrival!

happy day!

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a rare occasion.


photo-1i stopped at the farm and snuck into the greenhouse this morning. i needed to remember why i was here. it’s easy to forget, holed up in an empty warehouse amidst a maze of office complexes and concrete, that things are growing and coming to life.

the skagit valley is a funny place, and unlike anywhere i’ve ever spent a significant amount of time. it’s sort of like a swatch of the midwest farm country was cut out and slapped down amidst progressive enclaves more readily associated with western washington. it’s flat flood plain, an alternating grid of massive farms and run down strip malls. the roads run straight, through potato fields and lines of raspberries as far as the eye can see. the skagit is the bread basket of western washington…except that it produces vast amounts of berries and brassica seeds and potatoes rather than wheat or grain. it’s a patchwork of conventional farms interspersed with a few large-scale organic farms that sell to wholesale markets. it’s not like maine or vermont or port townsend.

in many ways, it’s the more real world. it’s real agriculture, with thousands of acres and gmos and chemical fertilizers and migrant farm workers and deportation and massive farm machinery outlets. it’s real america, with trailer parks and newly built vacant mansions in awkward developments and malls and outlets and fast food and meth and a giant, seething oil refinery.

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it’s not all bad. there are good people doing good things, as there are everywhere. it’s close to beautiful and majestic mountains, and to the san juan islands and coast. there’s a tulip festival every year, and you can ride your bike through endless color, as if you were in the netherlands.

the fact that it’s a real place, and not the ideal, makes it all the more urgent and important for an influx of sustainable and equitable agriculture, of fresh perspective and balance, and healthy food. even if it is a constant push against the norm. even if it’s not the place you want to spend the majority of your time. it’s noble, no doubt, but is that enough?

feeling out of place here has made me more sure of things. i’ve started a sort of mind map of what i want, and things are beginning to coalesce. good comes out of not so good, new growth comes out of the dirt.

a con and a pro.

these days, i’m on my computer almost 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. i have joined the masses of office workers (although my office is currently a cluster of desks in one corner of a dark warehouse. soon we’ll move back to our summer office: a single wide trailer on the farm, complete with an adjacent porta-potty.) somehow we scored 5 hyper-ergonomic desk chairs, leftovers from a microsoft upgrade, but still i am SITTING for HOURS in front of a SCREEN. by the end of each day my legs hurt from being crossed this way and that, my neck is stiff, and my eyes are zapped. how is it that so many people do this everyday without  batting an eye? i stumbled upon this article about the negative effects of sitting…also know as the “the smoking of our generation” !!! not very encouraging.

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on the upside, now that i’m captive to the computer i ought to be able to make a more regular habit of writing here. so while my lifespan may be shorter due to the stationary nature of my job, at least it will be well documented! stay tuned.

*illustration by barbara cooney. mostly unrelated, but includes sad-looking sitters.