Raspberries!

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Seems early, but then, strawberries were two weeks early this year, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Weston scrounged around our little home patch last night and came up with a few handfuls of delicious, sweet raspberries. The early Summits (grown on the lower sections of last year’s canes), as usual, are small and suffer from “crumbling” but it didn’t deter Weston’s enjoyment one bit. Big, luscious Tulameens are just starting now–two ripe ones in this harvest. I think if I had the time, I’d just do away with the Summits altogether and go with all Tulameens, but it’s a two-year wait for the latter to produce fruit. So even though I say that every year, I’ve yet to do anything about it.

All planting/growing arguments aside, we pretty much love any kind of raspberry. And last night’s first fantastic taste just whetted our appetite for more. As I type, Weston is hopefully foraging through the canes with a strong belief that more ripened overnight. I hope he’s right.

 


Motivation

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I took this picture a few years ago just outside Toyama, Japan. The guy was fishing for ayu, a small, delicious, smelt-like fish, where a concrete canal flowed into the sea. Like salmon, ayu live in salt water and run up rivers to spawn. I watched the fisherman work with great concentration and skill–he clearly knew what he was doing. After a while, I couldn’t resist, and approached him to talk fishing. Thankfully, he spoke a little English.

His bucket held three six-inch ayu–his haul for the entire day. But he was happy  with his catch. I asked him about other fishing, and he excitedly told me about salmon. My interest level ratcheted up a few notches. The rivers, he said, were heavily dammed to generate electricity and divert water into the famous Toyama rice fields. Some no longer even reach the sea. But there were still salmon there, he said, and they were his favorite fish to pursue.

As we talked about salmon, he grew even more excited, gesturing with his hands the way anglers around the world are known to do. “Last year,” he said, “very good salmon fishing!” I waited for him to find the right words. He continued, “I fish 37 days and hooked two salmon! Best year ever!”

A chill went down my spine. I don’t know that anything has ever hammered it home quite so powerfully: Conservation is not just a theoretical exercise; we need to work even harder to save what we have. Starting now.

 

 


Shades Of Summer

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We seem to be stuck in a “Junuary” cycle of damp, chilly weather again this year. Yesterday, at the 4th grade track meet, I had two layers of fleece under a rain jacket. There’s water standing in newly formed potholes all along our road. It may not feel like summer, but it does feel like June in the Pacific Northwest.

Seems like we go through this every year: shorts and flip-flops in May, followed by a return to wool socks in June. But the nearly 18 hours of daylight, and the deepening shades of green in the woods around the house, tell us summer, if not quite here, is on the way.

And that means salmon and crab openers will be here soon as well. I can already feel the stoke starting to build. As for summer warmth and sunshine? They’ll arrive on the 5th of July. Right on schedule.


A Good Reminder

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I must have walked past this sunflower star half a dozen times while loading the boat. If I noticed it at all, it was just something to avoid stepping on. Hurrying as always…gotta catch the tide, gotta go, hurry, hurry…

Then Skyla found it. “Dad!” she yelled, “Look at this sunflower star! It’s awesome!” And I stopped what I was doing, and really looked at it with her. We watched the millions of tiny legs reaching for something to grip, felt the rough/soft surface on its top, wondered what it was doing high and dry on a sandy, shallow beach.

I think that’s the best thing about hanging out with kids. There’s always something interesting, even if it’s something you’ve walked past half a dozen–or a thousand–times without taking much notice. I’ve been trying to learn this lesson for years, and yet, it still takes a kids’ curiosity to slow me down, wake me up and remind me to stop and smell the flowers. Again.


Way Behind Schedule

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Next winter’s firewood should have been split and stacked for drying months ago, but life–work, kid sports, book stuff, fishing–got in the way. And now I’m feeling pressure to get the three huge firs I hauled home (with the help of good buddies Neal and Reed) back in April into position to dry fast. The good news is the trees have been cut and quartered since April. The bad news is that they don’t dry that well when they’re lying on the ground in a huge pile.

Thankfully, I have a little help. Weston does quite a bit, actually, and probably cuts a third of the time out of my usual solo stacking process. More importantly, his cheerful spirits make the work more fun. And if we stack for extra good air circulation, and have a relatively warm, dry summer, we might be okay. Last year I had a late start as well, and the wood burned okay. Still a little wetter than ideal, but good enough. That’s probably the best we can hope for this year.

So yeah, a little late once again. But then, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s been several years since I actually had all the wood put up when I like. Turns out, the dream of being done with the next year’s wood stacks a year in advance is really just that…a dream. In which case, I’m not behind schedule at all. In fact, I’m right on time. Awesome.