Every season seems to bring in its own significant turnings, marked by both endings and new beginnings. This last week brought many endings to our little family, few of them relating directly to the natural world, but in sync with it in the way human endeavors often unconsciously are.
Last Tuesday was the Oregon primary election, ending several months of frenzied activity amidst what must have been one of the oddest campaign seasons ever as candidates and voters alike were kept from interacting in all the normal, casual, face-to-face ways that foster true connection, conversation, and trust. It was weird, to say the least, and unpleasant at many points as voices strove to be the loudest and most outraged in the only channels available: social media and traditional media.
The experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth, one probably fairly consistent with ages and ages of people’s distaste for political wrangling. I know that the creation of strawmen opponents and distorted political rhetoric are by no means new, in spite of the “novelty” of living in the Covid-era. Nonetheless, I was glad to be finished with the first wave of the year’s election process and hope against hopes that this fall might bring something that feels more productive all around. Maybe it’s wishful thinking?
In more positive news, our family is also wrapping up another long project: the kids and I will complete our academic year at the end of this week. Rusty will have completed fourth grade, and Dottie first grade. We’ve already completed most of our work (Math, etc), so this week we’re just finishing up a few books we’re reading together and laying a little of the ground work for next year’s more advanced studies. For example, today the kids and I spent some time looking at different kinds of writing and talking about how writers decide which “genre” and “form” to use depending on their “purpose” and their intended “audience.” It was a fun little discussion as I helped point out to the kids that different texts are different lengths and use different words and forms. For example, a letter to the editor is much shorter than a novel and has a completely different purpose to fulfill. These are things writers think about in order to be effective communicators through the written word. These are ideas we’ll revisit regularly as we continue to read and they begin to learn more about writing (especially Rusty, as he nears the end of his “elementary” education).
But mostly we’re just excited to be finishing up. The kids are learning the great joy that comes from completion. It is such a good feeling to have spent nine whole months working diligently every day and then stepping back and seeing the vast progress that comes from all that regular little bit of daily work. This year we focused our studies on the 19th century, reading about that era’s history and sampling its literature and arts. We all feel like we have a better sense of the 19th century’s “flavor” — its unique conflicts and challenges as well as its advancements. Such a complicated period of history that lays so much groundwork for our contemporary lives — it’s still with us in many ways as we continue the grand experiment in “modernity” that began so long ago. I’m excited for us to jump into the 20th century next year as we continue learning about the great stories of humankind.
But, first: the next beginnings. The primary election and the school year behind us, we will not be left with an empty vacuum, but instead with the returned rhythms of summer. As I wrote in last week’s newsletter, this summer will not be quite like recent summers, as it will miss many of the off-farm activities we’ve come to love (swimming lessons, camps, camping, etc.), but there’s still so much summer goodness to savor here on the farm and nearby as a family.
I’ve written in this newsletter many times over the years about how farming transformed summer from my least favorite season into my favorite one. Yes, it can be hot. Yes, it can be dusty. But, oh it is also so delicious in every sense! We’ve already begun eating more meals outside at the picnic table, relishing in the soft evening breeze as we watch the turkey vultures circle overhead. On Saturday, we made a little campfire in our fire pit and stayed out until dusk when the bats came out.
There is much work to do in this season too (Casey mowed all week, and this week we’ll be transplanting so many plants!), but it is work that comes with wonderful rewards all season long in the form of those delicious foods we only get to really enjoy in the summer. Now that school won’t be the opening act in the kids and my day, we’ll have a new rhythm of going outside first thing and participating in the work of the farm while it is cooler.
Even though the farm has been operating full throttle already for months, the kids’ and my new rhythm and relationship with the work feels like a fresh beginning in this strange year. I’m very grateful for this work and this place, more than ever. And grateful that we can still share the best parts of it with you, even with our continued distance.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
Fun new veggie this week … the sugar snap peas! We have so many peas on their way, but the harvest is always a curve that starts out slow, then roars along, and then finally slows down again. Since we haven’t actually harvested them yet for this week (one of the oddities in this new system that is very different than how we’d “normally” order things), we don’t exactly know yet how much our first harvest will yield. We think it will be good, but we can’t say just yet. So, we’re putting a limit on the orders for this week, and we’ll adjust the bag size based on the harvest yield.
Also, more brococli and cauliflower to come … ! (And more baby carrots too.) In the category of “beginnings and endings,” this week and next definitely mark a turning point in the the ending of the over-wintering vegetables and not quite the full start of the summer vegetables. We’re definitely still relying on some of the spring-planted high tunnel crops while we wait for the season to come on in fully force. Soon!