My buddy Neal took this photo of a barbecue we had up at the farm after one of our work parties. It reminds me how thankful we are to all our friends and family members who have done so much to help out. From computer help and logo design to pruning, mechanical advice and good old fashioned weed pulling, people have pitched in with way more time and work than we have any right to ask for. And having friends and family working alongside us goes a long way toward lifting the spirits and bringing good cheer to hard manual labor. With the harvest season in full swing now, it’s safe to say we wouldn’t have made it here without, as the song goes, a little help from our friends. Thank you.
My buddy Smarty and I had a stellar morning of fishing on Saturday, with plenty of nice fat summer kings. We limited out and had one that went 25 pounds, which is the biggest Puget Sound hatchery king for me in three years. Really nice fish. Hard to imagine that 50 years ago, the average king salmon here weighed exactly that: 25 pounds. Today the average is more like 12, probably due to the high number of hatchery-produced fish, which have shrunk in size as they’ve become more inbred.
But this is about the Dungeness crab pictured above. On the way in from fishing, we pulled the crab pots and found them loaded. Good size, too. The fat daddy on top there went 8.5 inches across the back, which is huge for this area. I boiled these in saltwater, then cleaned and chilled them until tonight. (Crab tastes better if you let the flavor develop for a day or two after cooking.) Skyla went nuts at dinner and ate at least one-and-a-half crabs by herself, which, if you ask me, is a lot for an eight-year old. Stacy put away a whole one as well. Weston and I are pretty much crabbed out for the year–I ate a half and Weston stuck to leftover teriyaki chicken.
With the best king season we’ve had in years going on, and having reached my personal crab-out threshold, I’m content to stick to fishing. But Skyla’s already lobbying for more crab. And tonight, Stacy was talking about crab cakes, which changes the whole equation. I can probably manage a little more crabbing, now that I think about it.
This is Weston on rapid descent from his epic summit assault of Mt. Mulchpile last October. Since we bought the farm (I don’t really like that expression, but we’re sort of stuck with it) the kids have spent a lot of time up there working. But they’ve also had to learn to entertain themselves as well. Their ability to do so has been a great lesson to me.
As someone who’s traveled all over in search of the bigger-better-faster-more experience, watching the kids play at the farm is a kind of zen instructional. Actually, spending time with the kids doing anything outside continues to teach this lesson. Skyla spends long moments peering into the water looking for small living creatures; Weston finds great happiness whacking brush with a stick or kicking a rock along the road; they both celebrate the discovery of shore crabs or spotting a pretty flower or bird in the woods.
The process of learning these lessons, as a type-A adult, is a lot of what Closer To The Ground is about. But my education continues, especially now with the farm. Hard to believe, but I’m already looking forward to something I thought would prove to be unending tedium–the winter pruning of 1,700 blueberry plants. And of course, taking time off from our labors to climb Mt. Mulchpile and leap into the air.
It’s a word I borrowed from my buddy Neal, a perfect description of the month following July on Puget Sound. Most days, the fog burns off quickly, leaving warm, bluebird afternoons…but it’s a sure sign the season is changing. When I put the boat in the water this morning, all I could see was endless, hazy white in every direction. I almost bailed, but figured I could fish along the shoreline of a small cove and stay safely out of the shipping lanes. It was spooky fishing without any visual cues and ears straining to hear oncoming boats. I would like to say I used some kind of ancient navigation technique, or some innate sense of direction, but the fact is, I fished by GPS for four hours before the fog lifted enough to snap this photo.
It was a great morning, though. Saw some friends on the water, put a couple nice fish in the box and enjoyed the quiet isolation and glass-calm water. Made it home in time for a quick lunch and spent the afternoon at the farm getting ready to re-open tomorrow. Beat tonight, but it’s August; king salmon are here, blueberries are ripening, work’s piling up…better set the alarm for an hour earlier tomorrow.
Actually, my brother made the file into a jpeg for me so I could post it. Thank you! No figuring on my part. But here’s the full jacket cover of the book, no clicking necessary.