At summer’s end

The late summer field is a mix of fast growing freshly planted (broccoli!) and jungle-like longer term plantings that are pretty much done for the year …

We still have almost a month until the Fall Equinox (the official start of the Autumn), but this is the last week of summer break for anyone on a school calendar, including our family. When I was younger, I remember feeling so much joyful anticipation this time of year. Summer wasn’t so much my “thing” growing up, for whatever reason. I didn’t like the heat, suffered from seasonal allergies, and lived in a place where it wasn’t as easy to tap into the rhythms of the natural world in a meaningful way.

But now summer is most definitely my “thing,” and I approach the end of it each year with a mixture of that old anticipation (because I still love learning!) and a wistful sense of loss — another summer come and gone. I love the special delights of summer: outdoor music, lots of river time, potlucks with friends, camping, travel, beautiful fields and gardens, sunshine!, good summer foods …

River kids!

Next year will bring another summer of course, but our children will be a year older. They may have new passions and interests by then and will certainly be developmentally more mature. So this feels like the end of a chapter in their life: the summer when our kids were six and nine. The summer when Dottie joined Rusty in having her own kayak and grew into a competent paddler, and they kayaked across the river to play on their own (with me on the other side). The summer when they both loved Dungeons & Dragons for the first time and spent hours making “character sheets” for themselves and all their friends. The summer when Rusty was busy with his first real jobs (fittingly, helping neighbors take care of plants and animals). Each summer becomes another marker of their growth, offering new opportunities for them to grow in ways that are unique to the season — new forms of independence.

It’s so so sweet to be a witness to their unfolding and growth as people in the world. I don’t even want to slow it down, because it is such a gift to experience their forward motion. But I do remind myself regularly to be present and savor all of this, because it’s very clear at this point that childhood really does speed by, summers ending, children growing. We’ve watched our youngest CSA members grow and leave home, and ours will too. I think one of the greatest gifts of parenting is the awareness of how time passes quicker than we think. I may not feel significantly older from summer to summer, but our children certainly do, and it reminds me that this summer — this one, right now — is my life. What do I value right now? I need to be doing it now, connecting with people I love, having fun with our kids, and doing good work in the world.

Our friend David passed away earlier this summer after a long, wonderful life — filled with family, friends, and plenty of adventure and several years of cancer treatment at the end. One of his life mottos was “Don’t postpone joy!” Good words to live by, in any season!

David also first introduced me to the poetry of William Stafford (they were friends!), long before I ever moved to Oregon, including what has become a favorite poem. Casey, the kids and I recently began memorizing poetry together, and we chose this one in honor of David (it was shared at his memorial too). It seems fitting to share it with you too, at summer’s end:

William Stafford

Before dawn, across the whole road
as I pass I feel spiderwebs.

Within people’s voices, under their words or
woven into the pauses, I hear a hidden sound.

One thin green light flashes over a smooth sea
just as the sun goes down.

What roses lie on the altar of evening
I inhale carefully, to keep more of.

Tasting all these and letting them have
their ways to waken me, I shiver and resolve:

In my life, I will more than live.

And, in tribute to the shifting seasons, you’ll find lots of new fruits and vegetables in your share options, including pears, carrots, beets, and the first of the winter squash (spaghetti squash!). Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Final CSA payments due! I emailed CSA statements to folks who still have a balance due this year (or who have credit they need to use). Please pay your remaining balance by Thursday, September 12. You can bring cash or check to pick-up or mail a check to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville, OR 97128. Let us know if you have any questions about your balance due!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Pears — Your pears may benefit from time on your counter to soften up! They ripen better off the tree, so that’s why we pick them “early.”
  • Baby carrots — We have SOOOOOOOO many of these beautiful, tender fall carrots, so we thought we’d start harvesting them now! You’ll get to see them size up over the next few weeks, and eventually we will dig all of them to store for the winter in our walk-in cooler.
  • Beets — The beet greens are incredibly tender this week! These are also from a large fall planting.
  • Frisée (salad) — This week’s salad is all frisée, a frilly member of the chicory family that holds up well in end-of-summer heat. Traditionally, frisée is served with a heavy (sometimes even heated) dressing — something creamy or even involving bacon grease! The texture allows it to hold up under these dressings well. Traditional toppings include bacon pieces and/or a fried egg (duck is the best!). You can also use it in place of salad mix in your favorite salad preparations of any kind!
  • Spaghetti squash — A few years back a CSA member introduced us to our favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash: Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and then place it cut-side up on a baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over the flesh and salt, and then bake at a high temperature until the meat is soft through (depending on the size of the squash, this could be 30-60 minutes). Once it’s cooked, you can use a fork to carefully “pull out” the spaghetti-like strands of squash onto individual plates. The olive oil will already have “dressed” it in the cooking process, and then you can add toppings or eat plain. We often use spaghetti squash as a “base” just like we’d use rice or pasta and then load on other vegetables or meat. We like making things kind of “wet” to put on top (just like pasta), so stewed tomato-y dishes, etc.
  • Peppers & eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Golden chard
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
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