As I sit at the picnic table to write this week’s newsletter, a deceptively gentle “breeze” is blowing from the north-east. But if you’ve been paying attention to the weather reports, this breeze is predicted to bring some wild weather to our region over the next 24-48 hours — increasing to record-setting gusts and bringing low humidity and fire danger. According to the maps I’ve seen, the highest risk level is centering right over our region, with Grand Island practically at its center. Already it feels very dry, like a sauna, and the humidity is still going down.
So, summer is definitely not over, and in fact it still has some surprising power up its sleeves. Here on the farm, we’re taking all the usual precautions. We won’t be using an open flames, or even machinery, during this fire watch warning. Casey also set up a line of sprinklers along the northeast edge of the farm, which we’ll run continuously to protect houses and buildings (ours and some neighbors) against the possible spread of brush fires.
We actually had a fire in that particular field (visible in the distance in the photo above) a few years back. It started when a branch fell from a tree fell into the power line and broke it. The live wire landed in the brush and lit a fire. Thankfully, it was seen and put out quickly. But with more wind, that fire could have moved toward the houses in the area. That’s what we want to avoid potentially happening now.
Otherwise, we’ll be hunkering down and bearing through the heat. We don’t have air conditioning in our house, as for the majority of the year it is fine without it. We open windows at night to let the cool air in and then close everything up during the day and that keeps things mostly comfortable. We also like that our bodies acclimate to the seasons by being in a house that isn’t kept a perfect 68° year-round. But then when the real heat waves come, it can get less comfortable! We may well enter that territory this week. We will see!
I suppose this late summer heat wave really shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve come to associate Dottie’s birthday (which was last Friday) with smoky skies and hot air. This wasn’t a Thing when we moved to the Willamette Valley in 2006, but now it definitely feels more like normal to see plumes of smoke in the distance and to have the sunlight colored darker orange. It always feels vaguely apocalyptic and is part of what eventually lets me say good-bye to summer without too many tears. Although late summer can be amazingly gorgeous (and is always delicious), these days of dust and smoke and heat and yellow-jackets do start to wear thin. Crisp mornings and sweaters and baked apples will be appealing soon enough.
I must admit that each new season brings less joyful anticipation than normal though, simply because I already know it will be empty of the usual festivities and many activities. This fall there will be no pumpkin patch on the island or trick-or-treating with the kids or large family Thanksgiving gathering. Even though pandemic-living is starting to feel like some kind of new norm, each new season brings its own unique sense of losses. It remains hard.
Friends and I have been reflecting lately about how we find ourselves sometimes just losing all our energy, seemingly for no reason, during this pandemic summer. We remind each other that under the conscious-level activities of our life, we are all also expending energy just living in these strange, uncertain times. Living in a pandemic takes energy — maybe not active, physical energy every day, but we expend creative and social energy navigating the new norms and trying to meet our needs and those of others while staying safe and healthy. Plus all the worrying. I know we all try not to, but quite frankly, there’s plenty to worry about.
Maybe it’s a relief in a way to be distracted by this immediate challenge of the weather. I wouldn’t want to romanticize this particular storm that is descending upon our region, knowing that it may cause damage in unexpected ways. But quite frankly, there is something nice about facing a tangible, basic, finite threat at a time when we’ve been worrying about so many bigger, complicated unknowns. If nothing else, it distracts a bit and gives us a purpose and work to do.
On the plus side, September is a most delicious month. This week’s vegetables bring the full taste of summer and the starts of fall. Take your pick on which season you want to experience more in each meal, or blend them for the true September experience! Stay safe and cool, and enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
~ ~ ~
Meet this week’s vegetables: