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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Valley: July 20

Ranier in July

A few days have passed since Gladys and I rode the Valley. This morning we take advantage of the cool marine air and cloud cover that have kept the summer heat at bay the past several days. As we wend our way through the gray morning, I note some subtle changes that mark the Valley progress (or retreat?) since my last visit. Take Brett De Vries’ vegetable garden, for instance. It appears Brett has decided to return his garden plot to its native state; weeds have shoved aside the vegetable rows and reclaimed their territory. Once you let the weeds get the upper hand, all you can do is throw up your hands in surrender and wait until next year. I can see corn. Sunflowers tower over the strangle of weeds. Twine from an overhead trellis descends into the weeds. I wonder what produce--beans, maybe--will struggle out of that jungle. Brett, bless his heart, is trying to be the Valley farmer, but his job, girlfriend, and social life run counter to the farmin’ life. We all have our priorities. My garden is nearly weed-free, a testimony—not because of priorities—but to…well, this chapter of my life. Maybe a weed-choked garden is a better trade-off for Brett? The years will unravel for him, too.

Further on down the road in the field across from Gramma Frohning’s I notice some serious farmin’ going on: some of Willie Green’s crew are planting fall broccoli (Fall, already?). The seedlings are plucked broccoli planters from their starting trays by one worker who sets them in the row where they’re planted by the support team. “Ola!” I say, to get them to look up and smile for the camera.

The field of pasture hay south of the broccoli  patch has been freshly cut (good haying weather in July), and I see a bald eagle swooping about, shopping, no doubt, for casualties and cripples, victims of the mowing machine.hayfield eagle He plunges into the hayfield and returns to altitude, clutching a bundle of hay (and what else?) in his talons.

On up the Valley I meet the master berryman, Tony Broer, leisurely riding his vintage bike to his old homestead where he’ll probably have his morning coffee with daughter-in-law Ginnifer. Gladys, female that she is, is jealous of those beautiful white-wall tires on Tony’s ride. Ah, envy, the green-eyed monster: but who can blame Gladys…those white-walls are pretty impressive. And those balloon tires…. What’s not to covet there!

To conclude this post, let me return to its predecessor : “A Sweet Pea Evening.” The only bouquet recipient left for the season is Phyllis Bickler. Ms. Bickler has been on vacation, and she has already missed out on her first bouquet. Today I picked and took the second to Safeway, but to no avail: Phyllis won’t be manning the deli until Thursday, I learn, but while I’m in the store, I notice Sheri Miedema is on her shift in the Starbucks’ kiosk. Sheri grew up in the Valley and any news from her is more manna for my blog. I order a Grande iced tea ( black, no sugar, light on the ice). Sheri flashes her beautiful smile at me and says, “ Guess what, I’m the only Miedema girl who’s unmarried!” (Sheri’s sister Linda celebrated her nuptials on July 10, I learn.)  I ask Sheri how she feels about that. That beautiful smile again. “Just fine,” she grins. “Let me know when there’s any news,” I reply.

And that sweet pea bouquet? I decide to deliver it to Linnae at Breezy Blends Espresso. In the Valley there are happy accidents aplenty. Linnae tells me Breezy Blends is now serving soft ice cream. The next hot summer day in the Valley, please make mine chocolate.

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