Another beautiful day.
I wake up, have some tea and toast, and give the bottles to the baby goats. I feed the chickens and walk around with a pail collecting eggs. Larry and Sandy had no trouble just reaching right under the chickens to grab the eggs, but my first attempts are probably too hesitant and result in some major pecking and (at least it seems to me) reproachful glares. Then, Sandy and I cover the large potato patch.
Lunchtime comes, and doesn’t disappoint. Sandy has a beautiful spread for sandwich making: handmade summer sausage, pickles, and mustard, purple speckled lettuce picked just moments before from the garden, swiss cheese, and pico de gallo the neighbors brought over the day before. We toast bread on the wood burning stove and build a hearty sandwich. Of course, dessert follows: butterscotch pudding.
Sandy asks me to bake some things. They’re hosting a potluck tonight! So I spend the rest of the afternoon making oatmeal raisin cookies and butter rolls made with fresh goat milk.
People begin driving in. I expected maybe two or three other people, but it soon it seems like the whole neighborhood is in the yard, chatting about the salmon run and razor clamming, the local theater, music… The people all belong to the Grange, a non profit organization that supports the rural community and agriculture. They are various ages and all wonderful spirited individuals with a serious work ethic and love for good life. I can’t adequately put into words how lovely they all are. Kind, respectful, honest..all with chutzpah and a great sense of humor.
Sandy asks me to make a salad, so I go into the garden and walk through the rows, the pigs galloping after me along the gate. Slowly, I fill a big bowl with speckled lettuce, wild dandelion greens, and nasturtium flowers.
The evening passes quickly. Everyone fills their plates to the brim with the offerings: roast lamb, wild mushroom and lobster stew, pork just falling apart and goat cheese speckled with blackberries… it is a feast. The conversation is rich and everyone’s glasses are continuously filled with rhubarb and crab apple wine.
The sun starts to lower behind the forest, and the dogs are running around playing with the goats. The conversation winds down.
An elder man with white hair wearing blue coveralls tells us about watching the salmon spawn in the river. The female swims on the bottom of the river, sweeping a circle to make a nest. She swims as the male dances all around her. With his hands the man shows us the dance, one hand gracefully gliding around the other, first on top, then behind, then beside, over and over. The old man grows quieter here, in nostalgic tones. He tells us that the salmon put out the eggs and swim and swim.. protecting the eggs. They would swim and swim.. and he would watch as their skin would just.. peel off.. until they die.
We all quietly take in the story. Its bittersweet melody floats in the air mingling with the sweet smell of the earth.
One by one the table empties. The empty wine bottles glow in the pastel orange sunlight.