Summer Days

Recently a series of storms have slammed into the Pacific Northwest, bringing lots of rain and wind. The wintry weather has me reminiscing of the long, hot days of summer and our first few weeks on the farm.

Summertime and the living is easy…summer in the country is quite idyllic. After living in a noisy (small) city, the silence and spaciousness of the country unfolded around me like a wide, deep river. My happiness.

When we arrived, our first order of business was to set up our shelter, a 6-person Northface Wawona tent. After a lifetime of using small, light backpacking tents, the Wawona felt gigantic with a luxurious amount of space. I affectionately nicknamed it ‘the pumpkin’ since it was orange and rotund.

Next, we needed to set up our kitchen area. The farm had a triple-bay garage with an attached woodshed that was in pretty good condition with working power, but desperately in need of a major clean-out as rats, mice and other critters had 15 years of free reign. After a cursory clean, we set up a temporary kitchen in the garage. Cleaning up the garage ended up being a project that took over a month to complete, but that is a story for another time.

It was the beginning of August, and the sheer amount of Himalayan blackberry bushes everywhere meant that there were a billion ripe berries. Each morning we would pick a cup of blackberries while the coffee brewed, and then make blackberry pancakes with syrup. We pulled our chairs out into the clearing and ate breakfast while watching the birds flit and hop around the bushes and trees. Because of all the plant overgrowth, there were many different types of birds in a concentrated area. I think my favorite was the Wilson’s Warbler, with its tiny yellow puff body and funny black hat.

On our first full day on the farm, we went over and met our neighbor. It turned out that his cat had just had a litter of kittens, and he offered one to us once they were weaned. I was ecstatic! We had been wanting a cat, but never got one since we were planning on doing a through-hike. But our plans had changed and we were experiencing a mice issue on the farm so it felt serendipitous. One week later we went back and picked out our very own kitten – a little stripy black kitten with a bobbed tail. We named him Pendulum, but call him Penny or Pen. I am in love with him.

I brought a journal with us and have tried to make a point of writing an entry every day. For the first month or so, I did a very good job. Lately it has been slipping out of my mind to write in it, but I’d like to get back in the habit as I have really enjoyed flipping back through past pages.

One entry in particular has stuck with me ―

August 13, 2020 – Thursday

Usually I just write one page per day, but I started thinking about all that I had just written and I realized that so much of it is centered on work, completing tasks. I want to take a moment to remember and record some of my favorite things that I am experiencing out here, to hold them in my heart and remember them forever:

  • the sweet grass smell of the fields
  • the way the wind talks in the trees
  • the big Swallow balls feeding at sunset
  • watching the baby cows play rodeo
  • the way the clouds scud over the sky
  • the bats chattering at night and taking off from the woodshed
  • the chipmunks running in the big debris pile
  • the geese migrating overhead in a perfect V
  • the way the rain makes fog in the whole valley
  • walking down the country road to the creek bridge
  • seeing the millions of stars brilliant at night
  • the quiet stillness and solitude
  • the way the sun warms me through and through
  • the fresh smell of hand-washed, sun-dried laundry
  • fresh blackberries in our breakfast
  • living in the big tent with Pat and Pen
  • when Penny nuzzles me and wants to play
  • waking up with Pat every day and living our adventure

In Dreams

Can I tell you a story?

On April 19, 2020, we were scheduled to begin hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 long distance through-hike. It would have taken us 5-6 months to complete it, if we were successful. We had been preparing and saving money for a year; however, when COVID-19 hit and shutdowns occurred, it was no longer possible for us (or anyone) to hike the trail.

We still wanted to have an adventure. At the time, we were living in Olympia, Washington – we had moved there from Oregon in 2018 to pursue some professional dreams. During the long months of COVID shelter in place, we realized that we had moved beyond the original goals that had brought us to Washington. We felt that we were no longer moving towards the things that would sustain and nourish us – we needed to do something different.

At the end of July, we put almost everything we owned into storage and, with a car packed full of supplies, drove 291 miles to move into a tent on a 15 acre piece of wild land.

The land used to be a working farm, but was deeply overgrown after many years of sitting dormant. Pat grew up on the farm, until the family house burned down over 15 years ago. Living on the land was an opportunity to pursue our dream of being closer to nature and restoring a beautiful landscape.

When we arrived on the land, we didn’t know for how long we would stay out there. We still don’t – every day brings new joys and new challenges. We will stay until we feel called to a new adventure. But for now, we plan to document our adventure here, on the blog. We hope you will follow along.