After years of deliberation, planning and dreaming, our family finally made a big purchase this weekend: we bought a tandem kayak!
We’ve lived on this river island for ten years now. What good is it to live on an island without a boat?
Water has always been an important part of our lives. Casey grew up in Lincoln City with a view of Siletz Bay out his windows and just a five minute walk from the beach itself. I grew up in the Puget Sound, with Lake Washington and the salty waters of the sound making up the backdrop of life. Not to mention all the tiny creeks and tributaries and sloughs that led in and out of all these bodies of water in our lives.
Evidence suggests that humans, as a species, flock to water. We need it for life, of course: to drink, for cooking and sanitation. But we also seem to enjoy its presence. “Water views” add value to homes, even though all homes in the same vicinity will have the same necessary running water in their showers and taps. We just love water: the feel of it running over heads in a shower; the sound of it flowing over rocks or in fountains; the calm placid sight of a lake or pond. I think that in so many ways, for us humans water equals life, and it stimulates in us the joy of just being alive.
Water metaphors abound in our culture and its stories and songs. Some of my favorites that come immediately to mind: the classic folk spiritual “I’ve got peace like a river,” which follows up this image with more watery lyrics — “I’ve got joy like a fountain” and “I’ve got love like an ocean.” Love like an ocean! Think of that imagery for a moment. What does it mean to have love like an ocean? That is a vast unending love, always coming to shore. Yes and yes.
Another all-time favorite quote of ours is from Kenneth Grahame’s classic The Wind in the Willows:
Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.
Casey once had a t-shirt with that quote on it, and he wore it in our early years of farming. Those were years that, I have to admit, felt a little dry to us as we acclimated to a new warmer, drier climate than the ones we grew up in. Casey and I both felt some reluctance initially about moving to an interior river valley, having both grown up breathing the smooth wet air of the ocean. But of course finding ourselves farming on an island brought watery romance back into our lives, and over the last decade we’ve slowly gotten to know this new kind of water — water that isn’t as vast as the ocean, but that flows through the most populous part of Oregon, bringing life everywhere it meanders: farms, ospreys, blue herons, willows, cottonwoods, kingfishers, minks …
We’ve come to love the Willamette deeply, as the source of our life here in reality and also in spirit. When our work gets dusty and hot in the summer, the river is our refuge — a place where we immerse ourselves in its flowing coolness and come out completely rejuvenated.
But we realized a few years ago that our experience of this river has been limited to what we can see from the shore (plus a little swimming), and yet the river is also a trail in of itself. In fact, rivers around the world were some of the first trails and roads, providing humans with open navigable paths through dense woodlands, serving as connections between different communities for trading and friendship. In places where water is more navigable than land, boats continue to be the primary mode of transportation (notably along the fjords of Norway and in the Amazon basin).
Boats are an important human technology and can open up new pathways. Plus, they’re fun to mess about in. So, we took a few years for the kids to be old enough and to figure out what kind of boat might be best for us (to start with anyway), and then we did it!
We took it out twice during last weekend’s heat wave, both here at our river spot and then on the Yamhill via the Dayton landing. On our first outing, we paddled upstream to an area on the river that we often hike to. The route via the river felt very different!
We’ve got a long list of places we’d like to explore now that these local pathways are open to us. And, as I write this, Casey and the kids are down at our river spot on the island messing about with the kayak before dinner. Adventures abound!
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
P.S. As a public service announcement, I want to add a note regarding water and safety. If you too like to explore our many rivers here in the Willamette Valley, please do so safely by wearing a coast guard-approved life jacket at all times — children and adults both! Locally in McMinnville you can buy life jackets at Bi-Mart and Big 5 (I’m sure other places as well — but we’ve bought them at these locations). We always insist that our children wear them even when they are just playing in the river, but certainly we all wear our life jackets at all times when in a boat. Rivers are unpredictable, and every summer brings a few tragic deaths to the community as people go boating and swimming in the rivers. Don’t just pack it; wear your jacket.
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Reminder about CSA payment! Your next CSA payment is due to us by next Thursday, July 6. I emailed statements two weeks ago. You can bring cash or checks to us at pick up or mail a check to Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. Please let me know if you have any questions about your account or balance due!
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Fava beans
- Cauliflower — There is a limit on these this week because we want to make sure that everyone gets a share!
- Head lettuce — The heads are BIG this week! Time to make salad the main course of your summer meals. Load them all kinds of yummy toppings.
- Bok choy