Wee child plays with the vast ocean.
This last week we got away. In July. To the beach. As a family. To play.
As I mentioned last week, stepping away from our life this time of year takes some real work and intention. And trust that all will be well without us for a few days. But, oh, the break we provided ourselves was so worth it. To pause the routines and be more present with our children and each other and friends. To sink our toes in the sand. To surf. To play. To let our “to do” lists float out of our minds so that we had some extra mental space for appreciating everything more deeply.
We were there with another family. I watched the youngest children of the group playing in the surf — running out toward the water, wading up to their knees, and then running back wildly as the waves rolled back in. Out and in, laughing and screaming with the joy of it all. And, my mama friend and I stood there, smiling but also holding our breaths a bit. Because while the children knew this game was fun and probably recognized the power in those waves (adding to the visceral thrill), this mom friend and I really knew what they did not — we knew the massiveness of that ocean; its infinite force; the incredible vastness of its being; its hugeness. Watching these very tiny little people dancing at the edge of something so utterly powerful and awesome, I felt like I was seeing something bigger, something symbolic of life itself. This is the dance we do, always only at one moment in our whole life, at the edge of the complexity of people and relationships, life and death, the universe. We could allow the fierceness, the bigness, the immensity of it all to paralyze us into inaction. Or, we could dance. We could run and laugh.
And, then, as we returned from the beach every day, we climbed the dunes. Several times a day, in fact, we climbed up this hills of sand, usually carrying a child or a heavy bag of gear (or surfboard in Casey’s case). And it was hard work every time — each step we took up included at least a half-step slide back down. And I remembered how so often in the last few years I have compared our daily life to climbing a hill of sand — with two young kids in the house and a growing farm to manage, there have been days and weeks when it feels like we are just running around putting out fires and never getting ahead. Climbing that endless metaphorical hill of sand.
But, there I was, climbing an actual hill of sand last week, and I couldn’t help noticing these things: That even with the slippage, I made it up every time, with kids in tow or whatnot. I made it. Climbing a hill of sand is hard, but it is doable. And, I also noticed that it’s kind of fun. My muscles burned, but my feet enjoyed the feel of the sand, and I felt safe. I felt like if I stumbled, the fall would be soft. It was just a hill of sand after all.
(I should add here that this feeling of climbing a hill of sand is more of a memory than a daily reality anymore. Every day, these kids grow, and we grow as parents and farmers, becoming ever more comfortable in our roles. And what was once all new and growth has become routine in so many ways. But still — the memory of that hill of sand is a fierce and visceral one! And, I expect that we will have more hills of sand to climb in our future. Life’s best blessings are often accompanied by a fair bit of chaos and work!)
So, we danced in the surf and climbed our hill of sand and slept in a yurt and ate good food and visited with friends, and then we returned to the farm. Re-entry from a trip can be hard. After past trips away, we have returned to long lists from our employees of all the things that went wrong and need Casey’s attention (however, I’d like to point out how awesome it is that they DEAL with these crises in temporary but totally doable fashions so they do not disturb our vacations!!!! So awesome!). Anyhow, this time, all was well on the farm. And so Casey swung right back into routine by attending the CSA pick-up, and then … it rained. That night the rain began, and it continued off and on through the next day and night.
A rare sight indeed! Picking ripe blackberries in full rain gear!
If you are reading this blog from a distance, I need to stop and explain: it does not rain in Oregon in July. Like, never. July is a month of constant irrigation and dust (from combines mostly) and hot, hot days. Casey had stepped back from that urgent work of irrigation so that we could get away, and then … it rained. Ok, we realize that the universe has a lot more on its plate than our little farm, but on some level, this beautiful gentle, soaking rain felt like a gift. Or a reward for our faith as we chose to let go and find our peace again in the midst of summer. Or it’s just a fluke. But, a happy fluke nonetheless!
The farmer we used to work for in Bellingham would call these freakish summer rains “million dollar rains.” I suppose because extra rain in the midst of our prime growing season can cause such dramatic growth all around. Every single square inch of our farm got irrigated last week. And then the warmth returned, and all those trees and vegetables and pasture grasses have extra water to grow, grow, grow!!!! Oh the rain made us happy farmers! (We also appreciated the little clearing in the air and a break from the heat!)
I’m sorry for mixing up all these metaphors and images. I’d hoped I would be able to link them all together coherently upon returning, but perhaps this week is about vignettes, about little glimpses of The Bigger Picture and The Peace Perspective Can Bring. But, I’ll tell you what, if peace is to be found, for Casey and me it’s all about water. The ocean. The rain. These things revive us in the season of dust and heat. And, of course, so does the river. Our weekly trips to the river sustain us.
Hope you are staying cool and savoring summer’s surprises (and also summer’s plenty — oh, the food! The summer foods!). Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
P.S. Just for fun … with everything being so bizarrely early this year, we picked our first apples this week! They are from trees not yet in full production (they are in our newest of our three orchards), so it was just enough for our house to enjoy at a few snacks. But these were some big apples!!!!
Rusty shows you how big these Lodi apples were. WOAH!
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Green & yellow beans
- Kale & collards
- Summer squash & zucchini