Do you ever one of those days? You know, the kind of weird ones? Last Friday brought some unexpected turns to our life last week, followed by so much kindness.
The kids and I went to Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge for our Friday nature outing. It was lovely as always to walk along the very long boardwalk through the wet forest, but for some reason all three of us were just kind of cranky. I don’t know who started it or what — we all took turns sniping at each other or whining or whatever. It was a very different tone than I’ve come to expect from these outings of ours. Obviously they can’t all be wonderful, but in general we all seem to unwind as we walk into the forest each week. Except not this time, alas.
By lunchtime, it seemed like we’d mostly turned our “frowns upside down” as we ate our sandwiches and looked out over the refuge and explored a very large ponderosa pine tree (with perfectly spaced branches for climbing!). But by the time we were back in the car, things felt off again. Just weird. I looked forward to getting home and hopefully having a quiet afternoon of puttering around the house. I really wanted to clean out one of the sheds by our house, which had accumulated various farm and domestic related things over the last few years to the point of being pretty unusable anymore!
As we drove back through South Salem, however, Dottie announced that her seat belt wasn’t buckled right, and I pulled over on a side street to redo her booster. When I started the car back up, I looked over the hood to see a stream of something coming up from the front of the car — steam or smoke. Neither of those are good signs! I got out and looked closer but decided against trying to pop the hood since the stream had come out just where the latch was.
I really didn’t know what to do! But I figured that there should be a gas station or other car place within blocks so decided to keep driving. Thankfully, within two blocks, there was a gas station and I pulled in to look closer there. When I explained my situation to the gas attendant, he immediately went into the store to bring out his two co-workers and the three of them popped by hood (carefully!) and quickly diagnosed the problem — our radiator had cracked and spit out all the antifreeze! My car was overheated, so I couldn’t drive anywhere at that point. They invited me to park in the shade there while I called around and gave me a few suggestions. One of the workers asked if my kids were okay and said that she had drinks and popsicles if they needed anything. We were pretty set for food and water, but I felt so cared for by her offer.
Casey and I still don’t own smart phones, so I had to figure out how to find a car place or tow truck or something to get us out of there. I called Casey and received no answer, but my mom answered her phone and was already on the road and able to drive out to us.
So, we waited. The kids were upset at first about the idea of our car being damaged somehow since this was their first experience with “car trouble” (which I had to distinguish for them from a “car accident”). But we had books in the car, and eventually they just settled down to wait. After several more tries, I got through to Casey, who had been on the tractor when I first called, and he offered to come out too. He also called our mechanic friend, Matt of West Valley Auto, who called me and walked me through how to safely and effectively put water into the radiator. The woman at the gas station kept checking on us and offered to fill the radiator up with the hose, which we did in case it might end up making sense to drive somewhere else.
But in the end, my mom came and we called a tow truck and had the car towed to Matt’s shop. Casey arrived too, and he figured out what radiator we’d need and then drove off to buy a replacement and take to Matt’s. My mom gave me and the kids a ride back home.
So, our afternoon plans were derailed in an unpleasant way. But in one of those surprising gifts of the universe, I found that the car trouble really changed the attitude of all in our party. Our crankiness with each other (and just in general) was replaced with very deep gratitude for all the people who were able to help us find a way out of the situation. I felt grateful to strangers who were willing to care and be kind to us, and I was also grateful for the support network we have in our family (and that our lives are all flexible enough to allow for family members to drop everything in a minor emergency).
The next morning, Saturday, our fun plans to go kayaking were put on hold because we were sure when we’d need to go pick up the car. But that worked out okay too, because it gave Casey and me the unexpected opportunity to clean out the shed together. Which was certainly for the best — there were so many items in there that I really wouldn’t have known how to identify, let alone judge whether they need to be retained or recycled or given away. As it was, we cleared almost everything out, leaving us plenty of room for our bikes, surfboards, and emergency supplies. We even took the time to finally hang all our hand tools on the wall so that they are easy to find (we built this shed almost 11 years ago, and it took us this long? Oh well!).
And, by afternoon the car was ready, thanks to the speedy work of our friend Matt who knew that we needed it fixed as soon as possible. The car was fixed in just over 24 hours from the time that it first fizzled on me! Once again I felt so grateful! (And our kids enjoyed the early plums that were ready to eat in Matt’s driveway — yum!)
May all your summer adventures, the expected and unexpected, bring your gratitude and tasty fruit too. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Plums — The first of the next fruit! These are “Methley” plums, a hybrid Asian type that has sweet juicy red flesh. They’re never the biggest plums of the year, but they’re the first, so we eat them with deep appreciation!
- Lettuce mix
- Shelling peas — These are traditional shelling type of peas, and they DO need to be shelled in order to enjoy (the don’t have the sweet, tender edible pod like the sugar snaps do). Once you’ve shelled them, it’s simple to just toss the peas into any kind of dish you are cooking. When they are fresh like this, it doesn’t take much cooking at all for them to be delicious, so just add them a few minutes before you serve cooked greens, or throw them in a soup, or just gently sautée them with carrots, butter and garlic (add a little chopped ham to make it more a dish!).
- New potatoes