September 01, 2015

To Be Like White Licorice

The play ended and not a week into my bliss of gardening and regular sleep, we got hit with another overwhelming fire season.  The Okanogan Complex Fire is now the largest fire in state history, stripping last year's Carlton Complex Fire of its title, and is just one of many  massive fires burning in the state.   Everyone is exhausted.  

Due to the events of last year, all of the resources that were used, the emotional energy, the lack of dollars spent in our tourist towns, everyone was already struggling greatly and then to get hit again seems almost impossibly overwhelming.  A lot will change this year.  

Once again, we are totally safe in Mazama and aside from a day or two of craziness, not knowing the who-what-when-where-why of evacuations, we are totally fine.  There was only one day where we lost power and only a night without cell reception. In that regard, our community here is even more lucky than last year.  The only thing we've had to deal with is unhealthy levels of smoke and the hit in business.  And even there, we've learned to have a sense of humor about it. 

And yet, despite our luck, I still don't want to write about it.  It's exhausting.  It's sad.  It's courageous and brave.  It's heartbreaking. It's losing your house a second time.  It's not having the words. It's being Methow Strong.  It's ghost towns. It's tireless.  It's thankless.  It's the little things.  It's so many things...
Down valley, they were not so lucky.  The Twisp Fire, a part of the Okanogan Complex, took three firefighters from us.  One of them was a young college kid named Tommy, who died defending his own hometown.  I didn't know him having just moved here, but in a community this small, everyone else did. And they're deeply affected. The ultimate kicker? Prior to the start of the fires, he had just put in his two weeks notice.  He only had days left on the crew.

He was a bright light-- a friendly kid, acted in plays, won awards doing spoken poetry, physics major. It's unfair.  The only solace I have is the belief that we're all connected and he was such a bright light that his energy was needed elsewhere. He sounds like a Jake Merrill, a young man that lived in Mazama that died in an avalanche a year and a half ago now. Also, young and magical.  Also, senseless. Also, a bright light.  It makes you wonder... That kind of exceptionality.  There's something there, something they knew that resonated in every part of their being, something that required their freedom from this world... I have to believe it... while the rest of us still run around like chickens with our heads caught off, left to ponder the mystery...

Driving home from work I came across these cattle walking up Lost River Road.  They apparently didn't like the smoke and came down from the mountain where they were grazing.

...And yet life continues and we all adapt.

Our chickens started laying eggs!
Little baby eggs to start.
This was our first one.

And after a couple weeks,  Mary laid a huge honker!  I've heard the ladies at work talk about how their chickens stopped laying once all the smoke hit us.  Mary had something to prove apparently.

 And now they're slowly but surely starting to lay more continuously, getting bigger and bigger.  The slacker chickens have started to lay and I make corny jokes to Lliam.  He rolls his eyes but I'm pretty sure my excessive use of the word "eggsactly" is quite charming.

And people are wonderful.  Lliam's been working in Okanogan where the air levels are considered 'hazardous.'  I can't even imagine.  Aunt Nora, his sister, made us both some adorable egg collecting aprons. They came just at the right time and were huge spirit lifters! 

"Efficient and adorable!!!"  
(The APRON, Jay).

The girls are obliviously happy and healthy.  The smoke made our pompous rooster sound like a deflating elephant, a gross blow to his ego but wildly amusing to us.

Our rose bushes have been blooming.  Moonbeam decided her job, especially at this time, was to create more beauty.  I was grateful.

And she outdid herself.

The way she grows, I think Flora secretly wants to be a bonsai tree.  It tickles her mom.

I have no idea what these flowers are called but they remind me of the tropical plants in Hawaii.  For as long as I could endure the smoke (some days were better than others), I've taken quite a few vacations from a seat outside, a cocktail in hand, looking at these beautiful flowers.  Can you hear the waves?  

We started harvesting quite a bit.
We got some beautiful kale this year.

Made some kale chips and a terrific kale salad with walnuts, raisins and pecorino cheese.  

Our edamame was tasty.  
We've gotten some maters.

Looks pretty, doesn't it?

But Ay yai yai!
My tomatoes were infected apparently.
Zombie tomatoes.  No bueno.

Lliam, thankfully, has some really beautiful beefsteak tomatoes.

Our cucumber plant started taking off!

When cucumbers start growing, they are absolutely adorable!  
Like little cornichons!

Until they are grown cucumbers!
It's magic. Life magic.
I love it.

Zod keeps growing little zucchini weiners.  They don't seem to get much bigger and then they turn yellow and fall off.  I'm not really sure what to say about that.

Our Anaheim pepper plant is doing his thing
which is totally awesome.

Lliam gave me plant starts thinking they were watermelons.  As they grew and we watched the leaves, we were pretty sure they were just more cucumber plants.  Alrighty then, cucumbers for days! Let the pickling begin, right?

Then they started growing these little guys.
"Honey, they're squooshes!"

But then I found this one, as big as a baseball.
"Honey, they are watermelons!"

And then I found this guy hiding under a leaf!!!
"Honey, they're freakin' CANTALOUPE!"
Cantaloupe in Lost River!??

So we've got a few cantaloupe growing.  It's nuts. 
It kind of looks like a planet.

But this is life, man.  It ends.  It continues.  New life begins.  
And then the miracles... 

This is White Licorice.  She's our rose bush that has never bloomed.  She was moved early on so we weren't sure she was going to survive the replanting.  But she was steadfast, got healthy and started to grow.  We were hopeful when she and waiting... when she was utterly chomped to death by deer.  I was so very sad.  

I had such hope that she would come back. After the replanting, I just knew she was a fighter.  And she was!  She grew these buds...

Then she got chomped again.

I thought she was through.  But we clipped her back anyway, I brushed her petals everyday very gently and a couple weeks passed.  She started growing new red and green leaves like on Aurora pictured below.  She grew red and green like Christmas.  Like a gift.    

And slowly she began to bud.  
I held my breath for deer...

And today?  White Licorice has fully bloomed for the first time. She's beautiful and a reminder to me of perseverance, hope and adaptability.  It felt like a beautiful miracle.  She never gave up.  We never gave up.

I saw this a day or two after she bloomed.
The yellow made me think of her.
The fires made me think of us.

They say children teach us to be better people.
I think the same can be said for plant babies.

Much love,

1 comment:

Darci Monet said...

Absolutely beautiful post, Puddin' Pie!