Small Town 4th


I lived in Seattle for 11 years, and during that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I was out running errands and randomly ran into someone I knew. We’ve now lived here on the Island for 10 years, and in that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out running errands and NOT run into a friend. Of course, it took me a while to adjust my big-city, max-efficiency mindset and grasp the beauty of errands as social opportunity, but now I realize what a blessing it is. Going to the hardware store is a chance to talk fishing with buddies; the grocery store often means conversations about kid soccer or basketball; and dinner out can turn into multi-family dining with kids and parents all happy to see each other.

It’s funny, but we were a little concerned when we moved out here that living in a house way back in the woods might lead to isolation. Turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth. This is a community that helps each other and looks out for each others’ kids, a place where a trip to town means a chance to chat with friends, and help with anything–wood cutting, weeding, boat fixing, kid transportation–is truly just a phone call away. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

And nothing captures that spirit like our small-town 4th of July parade. There’s nothing particularly grand or spectacular about it (the scotty dogs and rope skippers are often high points), and it would be easy for visitors from bigger, grander cities to call it hokey or yawn in boredom. But it’s a fun and happy time, with community pride all around. You don’t have to call ahead and make plans to meet up with friends, you just go down there and run into them. The kids play and run, the parents talk and laugh, and everyone eats street food and ice cream. And come to think of it, that’s pretty grand and spectacular after all.

Holiday Book Events


Warning: Shameless self-promtional message to follow. Have I mentioned that Closer to the Ground makes a perfect gift for anyone who reads? Or eats? Or loves the outdoors, or has kids, or grandkids? Or breathes? Ha! If you’d like a signed–or better yet, personalized and inscribed–copy of Closer to the Ground for the holidays, I will be at the following locations over the next month or so:

November 30th, 3:00-5:00pm, Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, WA. This is a great event, created by Sherman Alexie, to promote holiday shopping at independent bookstores. Local authors will work as guest booksellers, give recommendations and sign books. It’s an honor to be a part of the fun. Come on down, meet some famous authors (and me) and help support our local indie bookstore.

December 6th, 5:00-8:00pm, Charrette Holiday Pop-Up Store, 130 Winslow Way, Bainbridge Island, WA. Charrette features a collection of local and regional artists and their creations. Products range from artisanal chocolates to jewelry, fine art and lamp shades. Pretty much one-stop shopping for everyone on your list. I will be there signing books for the First Friday Art Walk.

December 11th, 6:00-7:30pm, Albany Public Library, Albany, OR. I will be giving a talk, reading from Closer to the Ground and signing books at this cool event presented by the Greenbelt Land Trust, Calapooia Watershed Council, Ten Rivers Food Web and the Albany Public Library.

December 11th, 8:00-??:??pm, Cascadia Fly Shop, Corvallis, OR. Fish stories, fly tying, book talk and signing presented by the Bluebacks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, all in my old home town. If that’s not enough incentive, I hear they’ll have beer on tap at this event.

I think that’s about it for now. I will try to remember to post reminders as the events get closer. If you have the time, come on out to one or more of the events. It’ll be great to meet you in person and shoot the breeze. And here’s an idea: Buy 20 copies of the book, have me inscribe each with a personalized inscription, and BOOM! You’re done with your holiday shopping for the year. At least now I can tell my publisher I tried…


Blueberries Waking Up


With spring weather, we can finally go about our farm chores with visions of the upcoming season in mind. It’s still a long way off, but we’re over the winter hump, and it feels good to have something to look forward to. The berry plants are now budding out, and we’re a little behind in pruning, but should have it wrapped up soon. (Or I should say Stacy will have it wrapped up soon, as she’s done the vast majority of it this winter.) We’re still getting by with mowing twice a month, but it will be every week here pretty quick.

Of course, excitement about the upcoming summer season is tempered with the work still left to do: finish pruning, start the annual and ongoing battle with weeds, re-do the dahlia field and put the tubers back in the ground, mow,mow, mow, weed, weed, weed…

But the opening buds and dreams of sweet berries and happy customers keep us going. We’re stoked! Hope to see you in person at the Poulsbo Library on Saturday afternoon or Silverdale Library Monday evening. Or on Comcast Sportnet’s (I think I mistakenly referred to it as Fox Sportsnet previously) Outdoor GPS show tomorrow.

Little Free Libraries


A couple weeks ago I read a story about these small library boxes people are putting up to share books around their neighborhoods. I thought it was such a great idea, I did a little more research and found out there’s actually an organization that helps people build and install the book boxes. And they feature a map where you can find Little Free Libraries anywhere in the world. Their website is HERE. The picture above is from a story about the rebuilding of a vandalized LFL on Inside Bainbridge.

Using the map, Skyla and I found a few “official” LFLs nearby, and also remembered the unofficial one that’s been up near Stacy’s parents’ house for years. So we decided to donate copies of Closer to the Ground to the Komedal Road, Shepard Path and Agate Loop “libraries.” I’ve heard there’s another one on the south end of the Island in Crystal Springs, but we couldn’t find it…if anyone has an address, let me know and we’ll drop off a book.

Here’s to a great idea and the hope that it keeps on growing.