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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Red Sky at Night: A Valley Delight…

DSCN3299 There is sentiment in this household that my last post was a bit on the dark side. If so, in case my fall thoughts may have cast a pall on the the season, this post should make amends.

The sun is always setting somewhere. The spheres spin; Old Sol just squats in the middle of things. Sunrise. Sunset. Pete and repeat. We do all the work. At this moment the sun is setting-- in Cairo, Vladivostok, Capetown, Honolulu…on Mars—perhaps in Heaven.

You need a special blend to produce the spectacular. With sunsets, clouds are essential. Without them you might as well whip up an omelet without eggs. A nephologist could tell you the best mix of cumulous, stratus, cirrus, nimbus to refract the setting sun’s rays and daub the Western sky with a palette of fire. Particulates in the air assist: smog, wildfire smoke, contrails. An unobstructed view of the Western horizon is a must. But I don’t want to science away beauty; let your eyes be the beholders. Let the Old Master Painter’s brush capture the Western sky gallery. Stand back and marvel at the show.

Tropical sunsets trump all, they say. I have seen Maui sunsets, watched the sun sink into the Western sea, crowning crests of waves gold and crimson, and I admit they are impressive. Tualco Valley sunsets may not gild Pacific billows, nor silhouette swaying palms, but I will pit them against the best the tropics can paint in the Western sky. Let me bring some splendor to your evening by sharing some of our Valley’s finest evening solar flares.



















Sunsets here in the Valley, as is the case with all sunsets, are works in progress: they evolve rapidly with kaleidoscopic variety. By the time you rush for the camera, the show’s likely over, the spectacle swallowed up by dusk--and like the kaleidoscope screen, ephemeral, a singular refractive phenomenon. So put supper on simmer. Pause a moment during the evening chores. Gaze to the West. Put the day on hold and rejoice in the evening sun’s grand exit, for in the lyrics of that old Irish song: “The cares of tomorrow can wait until this day [and this sunset are] done.”Tualco sunset

P.S. Let the competition begin. My number one follower contends that Eastern Washington sunsets rival the Valley’s. I’ve posted one such. You be the judge. The author.

E. Wash. Sunset

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Keep Movin’ in the Valley…

Ranier in Sept

The Valley is a lonelier place these waning days of September. The swallows have fled south. The barn swallows are the laggards, last to leave, but they are gone, too.  I miss their sky frolic. I try to think of an appropriate collective noun for a skyful of swallows: a “Swoop” of swallows? A “glide” of swallows? A “felicity” of swallows…? But mostly, I suppose, their departure is a symbolic loss: the loss of a season, those long days of light and warmth—the weather of shorts, sandals, and tee-shirts. It is a weighty symbolism that presages months of dreary weather—dark and gloom—floods and storms. And of course there’s the underlying uneasiness that when next the swallows visit the Valley, months will have passed, a new year of uncertainty will have arrived; time irretrievable, forever lost. 

Starlings rule the Valley now. A collective noun for them? A “blight” of starlings? A “scourge?” A “plague?” The Valley throngs with this troublesome avian. As I ride by the cornfields adjacent Frohning Road, I startle clouds of them skyward (a “Startle” of starlings?) These swirling flocks are the hearty descendents of the sixty original European stock released in New York’s Central Park in 1890, brought to the continent by the Acclimation Society of North America whose bird-brained member Eugene Schieffelin reputedly sought to introduce all the birds referenced in Shakespeare’s plays to the New World. (“Starling” appears only once in Shakespeare: Henry IV, Part I, I, iii, ll. 224-6 :

“I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak/

Nothing but ‘Mortimer,’ and give it him/

to keep his anger in motion.”

Seems a grave injustice to visit such an avian epidemic on a young Nation for a one-time reference in thirty-seven full length plays, don’t you think? And what’s in the name, anyway? Star+ling—“young star”— what a misnomer for such a dowdy, drab little feathered pest.)

Truth or not, this highly adaptable and prolific bird quickly bullied its way trans continent. I received an email bulletin from Walt Werkhoven  a few days ago informing me that the annual corn harvest will occur within the next two weeks.Starling Repast I notice the starlings have been conducting an aggressive corn harvest of their own, and as the throngs take flight, I wondered how much crop will be left in two weeks.

Even though  sunshine bathes the Valley, my thoughts are under a cloud this morning as I pedal along. They roost sinisterly in the dead cottonwood tree on the banks of Riley Slough by the Lower Loop Bridge. My dark thoughts have transmigrated into buzzards, it seems, eleven of them (might just as well have been thirteen).Buzzard Count  How apt, I think: symbolism on the march here in the Valley. Vulture thoughts to shade what should be a grateful spirit—one more day of sun before winter’s “discontent.”



Buzzard game plan

Their hulking bodies seem to say,“Don’t linger long. Keep moving; time’s a’wasting; and Time will waste you, too.” I have never seen them here before. I wonder, “Do they know something I don’t?” Some begin to shuffle on theirBuzzard Roost perches: I have stopped long enough already and decide to move along before I’m shuffled upon. Buzzards: how much more foreboding than a congregation of swallows (a “Conspiracy” of vultures; a “Wake” of buzzards…).

“Fall is a reckoning time of the year/When the stock of the summer is brought up to clear…” I once wrote, and I think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “To a Young Child”:

Margaret, are you grieving

Over Goldengrove unleaving

Leaves, like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! As the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By & by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you will weep & know why.

Now no matter, child, the same.

Not mouth had, no nor mind expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It is the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

Cottonwood leaves flutter down, drift across the road—summer’s residue. As they swirl around me, I think of the lines: “as the heart grows older…the blight man was born for….” Old Capulet bemoaned his lost youth: “‘Tis gone, ‘tis gone, ‘tis gone”; summer ‘tis spent, too. Is it that what I grieve for? Or perhaps it’s just me I mourn?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Tender Moment in the Valley…

Summer breathes its last...This morning I was pedaling earnestly along in the Valley, trying to make the Loop circuit before Gladys and I were drenched. We were homeward bound, rolling along the straight stretch of road by Willie Green’s Organic Farm when a little gray Toyota whizzed passed. I looked up just in time to see the young woman driver and her passenger, a dog of some medium-size Boxer breed. 

With rain thoughts paramount on my mind I continued on up the road. As usual I glanced up the Meuus’s driveway and wondered how they were doing. Son Tom must be back in school, this his senior year at Monroe High and is probably looking forward (no pun intended) to the Varsity basketball season and beyond that, graduation and college. No sign of activity there, and I turned my attention to the road ahead.

A couple hundred yards up the road I noticed a white something, what at first I thought to be a plastic shopping bag, lying in the road in the middle of the oncoming lane. Just a few yards more and I realized the white form was an animal. Since this stretch of road experiences heavy feline traffic—Deck’s numerous barn cats on the prowl—I was fairly certain the motionless form was a cat whose string of lives had just run out.

Of course we have all seen animal fatalities on the roads and highways, victims a veterinarian once told me of “Death by Goodyear.” Even though I’ve seen dead animals roadside—or centerline--countless times, I have yet to become callous, inured to their demise. Perhaps this is because of the numerous pets that have enriched my life or the fact that we presently own a housecat. For this reason I always experience a twinge of compassion—pet empathy, you might call it—whenever I pass the still form of a road kill. For some reason this feeling is heightened  for me during the winter months…something about death--the ultimate cold--lying on the shoulder stiffened with frost. Seems like an excess of Death’s cruelty. At the expense of seeming maudlin, I admit I also flashback twenty-four hours when the hapless corpse was a living, breathing, vital creature and wonder about its life, what it was doing then, not knowing its life numbered mere hours, minutes…seconds….

These were my thoughts as I approached the stilled form. Just then a small gray car approached, glided to a stop on the shoulder next to the cat. I recognized the same vehicle that had passed us moments before. The young woman got out, crossed to the body of the cat, and knelt next to it. I felt a brief wave of panic: what if the creature were still alive, badly injured…then what? We were within talking distance now, and I heard her ask: “ Do you know whose cat this is"? Does it belong here?” I blurted back, “Is it dead?” My question was answered almost immediately. To my surprise, she carefully lifted the cat from the pavement. I could see its body was stiff with death. She carried her little burden to the grass alongside a driveway and as tenderly as if it were a stillborn child, she laid it gently in the damp grass where its body would not be brutalized by traffic.

Hers was such a simple act, a gesture of decency and respect, and I wondered how many of her peers—or others for that matter--would have done the same thing, take the time to stop their car, turn around and return to the fallen animal. Then touch its dead body barehanded and lay it to rest with the dignity its little life deserved. Just a small thing, I know, but it warmed a dreary, drizzly day for me.

Her name is Blair, she tells me. We talk for a bit. She boards her horse at Cascade Meadows stables, was headed there to ride when she passed the dead kitty. I thank her for taking the time to do such a decent thing. But why wouldn’t she? Her Boxer dog in the car…on her way to ride her horse…obviously Blair loves animals—even dead cats.BlairNice people pass through our Valley. Kind people. Thanks again, Blair, for what you did this morning.   You made my day the better for it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Ringie Dingie, Two Ringie Dingies…Gladys Gets a Bell…

Vintage 2010

Over the weekend we visited another Valley, the Walla Walla Valley, and the quaint little town the citizens loved so much they named it twice. Walla Walla is like Monroe as it, too, provides free parking. It differs, however, in that while Monroe and Snohomish seem to be big on frowzy antiques, Walla Walla is keen on wine: many businesses promote the area’s wineries—nearly a hundred in the immediate area.Fruit of the Vine In fact this little town, home to the historic Marcus Whitman hotel, is surrounded by vineyards. One could spend an entire week visiting tasting rooms, sampling the wide range of varietal and generic blends vinified  from grapes grown in the Walla Walla Valley. North Star wineryFor those who enjoy this sort of thing—we remembered our trip to northern California, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in the ‘70’s—the touring of wineries these days can become an expensive proposition: we discovered some wineries charge a tasting fee of eight/nine dollars, and even though the fee is deducted from purchases, at some wineries you’re still paying close to fifty dollars a bottle for a specialty red, a hefty price for a bottle of wine, especially if your pocketbook is accustomed to the more comfortable feel of “Gallo.”

One morning we decided to visit Dayton, a little town northeast of Walla Walla devoted to the wheat industry. Dayton’s renown is “The Gateway to the Blue Mountains.” I visited Dayton back in 1989 and this weekend’s visit confirmed that this little burg, like the Blue Mountains themselves, is impervious to change. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true: on our exit from Waitsburg, a nondescript suburb of Dayton, we encountered some strange wildlife—as if we had visited south-eastern Washington by way of Cairo. Quick Abdul: dromedary or a bactrian???local wildlife Strange it was indeed to see a camel sans desert sands but instead a part of the landscape of golden grains.

It is customary, you know, to return from a trip with souvenirs for those who you “wish could have been there.” Sometimes instead of seeing the sights yourself, it seems you spend an inordinate amount of time looking for knick knacks to bring back to those left behind. Nestled in among the tasting rooms in downtown Walla Walla was a delightful little toy store. I believe this establishment was called “The Blue Octopus” ( I’m sure about the cephalopod, less certain about its color, but there was a large blue octopus painted above the door front). This toy bonanza ran high to nostalgia, and I hearkened back to kiddom when I picked up a kaleidoscope, held it up to the light, and watched through the peephole as one colored snowflake after another formed with each twist of the wrist. Remember when you tried to share a particularly impressive configuration with brother, sister or friend? You never knew for sure if they were viewing the same snowflake; just the slightest motion in the exchange from one hand to another and your spectacle would dissolve into another color, another shape.

There were little bags containing jacks and a rubber ball. Oh, those winter days in the fourth grade when classmates and I would wile away our recesses sliding those spiky little objects into “pigpens,” deftly moving on to “double bouncies,” “around the worlds,” and scooping up singlehanded all twelve jacks in one fell swoop. And I even imagined the sharp pain of the puncture wound you sustained when a stray little toy reverted to weapons status—you found that missing jack with the sole of your bare foot.

Marbles. Bags of them, too, complete with rules for a variety of games, some I’d never heard of, involving those desirable glass orbs. No mention, however, of “playing for keeps” where a bulging pocket or an empty one at the end of the day depended on your shooting skill.

Who hasn’t had one of those kits where you drop the colored rocks into a bowl of magic liquid and watch the miracle of their sprouting into spectacular little stalagmites—your very own miniature Bryce Canyon geologized right before your wondering eyes.There were tins of band-aids, each a prophylactic strip of bacon, “man-daids,” most certainly. I resisted the temptation to stick my forefingers in those Japanese finger trap tubes, the selfsame kind we used to haul out of the “fish pond” at our elementary school carnival fundraisers.

Ah, but these appealed to me. Just selfishness, pure and simple. On I browsed, looking for just the perfect souvenir, one that had special substance and meaning beyond the sentimental, something practical, something with lasting impact, something for that special someone. And then I found it. A rush of emotion came over me, that special feeling when you know you have happened upon that rare gift, the one that has eluded you forever it seemed.Gladys's souvenirA bike bell for Gladys! She who has been mute all these years of riding the Valley to and fro. She who has had no voice with which to back sass those fancy hi-tech velocipedes as they flash by, leaving her in a condescending backwash of Spandex and sunscreen. Ill-equipped, she, for witty repartee or sarcastic barb. Yes, it warms me to say, Gladys has a voice now, a cheery ting-a-ling with which to regale whomever she passes (or more often’s the case, whoever passes her).

Bell's OnSo what your ride has those snazzy white walls tires, Tony Broer. My ride can make music, sweet, sweet music, and she can hardly wait to serenade you and yours.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

“Lest We Forget”:Remembering in the Valley…

Memorial ArchMost September mornings fog blankets the Valley, embracing the cornfields in a gentle mist. By midmorning, the Indian Summer sun draws it up into a firmament so blue and cloudless you almost cease to mourn for the season gone by. This month at a moment like this, when the mist swirls away from the blue, two September days come to mind, the first dark and terrible; the second, a day of healing.

I had an early morning dentist’s appointment that Tuesday morning, September 11. It was an 8:30 or 9:00 appointment—I don’t remember exactly. When you know someone’s going to be probing around in your mouth with sharp instruments, you just want the event over and done with early so you can regroup for the rest of the day. As I was preparing my mouth for the presentation, I flipped on the t.v. Immediately I knew something extraordinary must have happened. Instead of a sappy commercial or smiling meteorologist with “your” five day forecast, I saw the skyline of a city. Center screen were twin monoliths towering above the tops of surrounding buildings. A cloud of smoke drifted from the side of one, a horizontal plume dark against a cloudless sky. I stared at the silent screen, toothbrush clenched in my fist. Then the voices…. No lilt to them. No cheery, voluble patter, but a timbre of dead seriousness. A plane had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. New York City--my first thought was of congested air lanes, crowded air space. Some small plane or traffic helicopter had somehow collided with the gargantuan building. After all, there was precedent for such an incident: it had happened to the Empire State Building in 1945 when a B-25 bomber flew out of the fog full bore into New York’s tallest building. Trecia was still in bed. I rushed to the bedroom with the news.

We returned to the t.v. and listened in disbelief to  news that a jetliner had crashed into the North Tower and that a second had struck the South Tower an hour later. A second jetliner? No accident. No deadly coincidence. Both towers were burning, being evacuated, and a desperate effort was underway to rescue those trapped in the twin 110 story structures.

There’s nothing like a terrorist attack on home soil to take your mind off probing steel and oral discomfort. I doubt I heard a single note of that “soothing” music dentists serve up as a distraction. The rest of the day we spent in front of the t.v. following live coverage of the attack, watching the towers burn, watching until they finally collapsed.

Not since Pearl Harbor and World War II has an event so galvanized a nation. Memorial services for the victims were held throughout the country. Our church kept its doors open for those who wanted a sanctuary for a moment of silence, a quiet place to reflect and offer up silent prayers for the victims of the heinous attack and the fallen first responders. I adjusted the flag on the front yard pole to half staff. It stayed half staff the rest of the month. Ours was a Country in mourning, in need of healing.

Saturday, September 15, 2001: Seattle, a continent away, a day of healing was held and continued for the week beyond. The morning was typical for early September, the sun fog-blocked, solar radiation yet too oblique to burn through the cloud cover. For all who wished to show their respects, a memorial for the victims of Tuesday’s attack was held in the shadow of the Space Needle at Seattle Center’s International Fountain. It was an event I needed to attend, so I picked a bundle of dahlias from the garden and left the fog-shrouded Valley for Seattle.

Marika and I attended together. I stopped by the U District where she was waiting for me. We parked downtown and rode the monorail to the Center. (Fares were waived that weekend for all who wished to visit.) Although it wSeattle Centeras early, around 10:00 a.m., a large congregation had already gathered. Many had brought floral tributes; a wall of flowers even then ringed the fountain and was slowly expanding. Some had put their feelings into words; others expressed their patriotic sentiments by placing flags and photos among the mounded bouquets. words of healingFlags rustled, too, amidst the throngs of people. As if in a holy place, the crowd was hushed, somber, afraid to speak, a public place turned sacrosanct. Only a gentle stream of water trickling down the fountain’s domeRemembering broke the silence. No jets of water shot skyward, the waters stilled in obsequy. Flower MoundThe Valley skies had been quiet since that Tuesday, an eerie silence, because all air traffic had been grounded for four days. Air traffic en route to Sea-Tac International Airport passes regularly over the Valley, and the whine of jet engines overhead is as much a part of Valley noise as the “Boom at High Noon.” But since Tuesday, 9-11, except for clouds and Valley birdlife the skies had been empty, silent…

Until September 15, the day Marika and I attended the Seattle Center memorial. For those not too nervous to fly, air travel had resumed that day. From a willow or some such vining tree, organizers of the Memorial Flowers from the Valleymemorial had constructed a simple arch and adorned it with bouquets and small American flags. From beneath this arch officiants  conducted the morning’s ceremonies. Others had brought dahlias from their own gardens.We nestled our tribute from the Valley down alongside the others and slowly made a circuit of the fountain, reading the tributes and looking at the other memorial offerings.

At one point we heard music and looked up to see, standing in the flowered arch, a slender, long-haired woman playing a violin. The touching notes of that old patriotic song “America the Beautiful” quivered in the stillness of the morning. Almost simultaneously overhead I heard a sound I hadn’t heard in nearly a week: the whine of jet engines. As I looked up, the morning mists parted away to reveal a large white jetliner, one of the first to arrive in Seattle since that awful Tuesday. I thought about the phrase “O beautiful for spacious skies…,” and was overwhelmed by emotion. Something about that graceful jet aircraft, stark white against the brilliant blue Seattle sky, the country picking itself up after such a horrible blow: it was a moment of healing. I’m sure I was not the only one who choked back tears.

Just the day before the attack on the Towers, we had gone to Bellevue for an estate planning session. The law office was on the nineteenth floor of an office building downtown. Two weeks later we returned to sign the documents. The country—the world—was a much different place then. As the elevator whisked us quickly to the nineteenth floor, I thought about those trapped that day on the upper floors of the World Trade Center, trapped eighty to ninety stories higher than our destination and shuddered in horror.

Knowing words have the power to heal, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer invited readers to write down their thoughts and send them in. The newspaper printed the letters in a later edition. I wrote then:

“President Bush reassured his fellow Americans that though America suffered physical loss, “the psyche of the American people remains intact.” That statement is just rhetorical bluster. The psyche of America is bruised. One only had to look at the faces of the thousands who grieved a continent away at Seattle’s International Fountain flower vigil, mourners whose tears could have restarted the fountain stilled at the center of the shrine. The American psyche is forever scarred; the display of the colors of the day, red, white, and blue, speak only to its resilience.”

And I made a prediction, too, one that still holds true nine years later:

“And I am afraid—not of high rise buildings, air travel, death by anthrax, but of the frightful legacy of a changed world for our children and grandchildren. But the greatest of all my fears is that there will be no closure to the heinous act of September 11, 2001. There will be no vengeance, no justice, no healing; a nation as awesome as ours seems powerless to seek out, eradicate or understand such evil, for the awful truth of the matter is there are most certainly more hearts of darkness at loose in the world.”

Now, on the ninth anniversary of the attack on our American way of life, I hearken back to the word “resilience,” for that’s what America has and, I maintain, will always have. At the same time I am reminded as well of William Faulkner’s  1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Faulkner said, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.”And the same holds true, I believe, for our great country.911 Victim

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Valley Profile: Kurt Biderbost, the Corn King…

Kurt's Vegetables

It’s pickling time in the Valley. Out in the cucumber patch those green gherkins are swelling by the minute, it seems. I swear you can see these little blimps almost lift the leaves. And you can’t let them get ahead of you, else they’ll stop producing: the more you harvest, the more you’ll have to pick. Right now, it’s me against the patch.

My mission this morning is to refill the half gallon jar I use for my year’s quota of “Jan’s Damn Good Pickles,” a recipe heavy on garlic, spices, tumeric, and dillweed. Dill! I don’t grow it anymore. Used to. Plant it once and usually it will volunteer year after year, the stalks sprouting up in random places: a sprig shouldering its way up through the sweet peas, popping up in the tomato patch, making a cameo appearance in the lettuce, but after treating it as weed for several seasons, this pickle mainstay no longer volunteers. Dill! This recipe calls for several sprigs, some whole, some chopped to steep in the brine. And it needs to be fresh. Time to visit Kurt’s vegetable stand just up the road from my driveway.

Kurt Biderbost and his dad Ted have been selling Valley produce at their little stand on SR. 203 since 1979. Most of the vegetables they grow and harvest right in thOpen for businesse Valley. The stand opens during the berry season, strawberries at first, raspberries follow. Then the summer’s vegetable crop kicks in, and the Biderbosts market the Valley’s bounty right on up through squash season when they provide kids throughout the Valley with their favorite squash: Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

Next to the Frohning clan, one of whom I meet almost daily in my forays in the Valley, whether I’m footing it or tooling Gladys around the Loop, I am most likely to encounter Kurt Biderbost. He rarely acknowledges my wave. Not the lift of a finger. Nary a nod. I think one would be more likely to catch a flicker of a smile from the Sphinx than Kurt.  He is the Valley’s Buster Keaton, less the slapstick, The Great Stone Face. As he drives by, there is a determined, almost grim expression on his face. I suppose he has a world of vegetables on his mind,  corn foremost. Corn is Kurt’s specialty, his big money crop, and in early morning in corn season, you’re likely to meet Kurt and tractor chugging along the shoulder of the road trailed by a bin full of ears fresh from the field.

Kurt’s vegetable enterprise is his sole support for the year, so each growing season in the Valley is of paramount importance. He tells me this season Mother Nature has yielded up a fitful summer; each crop is late this year. Kurt’s vegetable business is just one example of the struggling family farm-- it is a family effort: Kurt’s sister sometimes helps with the sales, as did a brother, who died years ago in a tragic car accident on Highway 2. Today Kurt’s nephew Mike helps at the cash register.Hired hand, MikeThe Biderbosts work very hard for their living. During the growing season, it’s a seven day  around the clock labor—and a constant battle with forces beyond their control. In short, the crops they produce come from just plain hard, grubbing in the dirt work, and they deserve every hard earned dime that comes their way.

Regulars this season at Kurt’s Fresh Vegetables will note something missing: the friendly chit chat of Ted Biderbost. You might say son Kurt was Ted’s straight man: Ted served up his produce with a cheerful banter; Kurt, all business, lives up to his namesake: “curt.” His dad is now in a nursing home, Kurt tells me. Ted is ninety-four, and that he has been able to work the fields and tend the vegetable stand all these years is testimony to his love of the Valley and farming. And I have no doubt that his devotion to the business, to working the Valley soil, plus his admirable work ethic, have contributed to his longevity.

Kurt shares all this with me and agrees to a photo for the Valley Ripple. I pose him with some beautiful Valley lettuce, fresh and green with a lushness almost tropical. (If you look closely, you may even see the slightest hint of a smile.The vegetable king) I select several nice heads of dill, freshly picked and delivered just this morning from the Valley. Kurt looks at my fistful of stalks and charges me one whole dollar. (A comparable bunch at Fred Meyers is $2.69—and that’s the sale price, too! Who knows when that dill was delivered or where it was grown.)

These days there is a resurgence of farmers’ markets. Kurt’s Vegetable stand is Valley Produceone of the oldest in the Valley. Whatever I can’t—or don’t--grow in my own backyard garden, I try to buy from Kurt. In fact it is Kurt’s garlic that will season up this year’s “Damn Goods” and the “One Jar at a Time Dills.”

Before I head out to the cucumber patch, let me put in a plug for Kurt, the Valley’s Corn King, and his vegetable stand. If you want beans crisp and snappy, not limp and Gumby rubbery, lettuce ready to crunch up your salad, green onions with the morning dew droplets yet clinging to their tops, rock hard garlic and cabbage, root vegetables plump and full of Tualco Valley nutriments--bounty of the Valley at its freshest-- stop by and visit this Valley institution. Help keep him in business—and yourself—healthy. Kurt will appreciate it. The honor box And this season’s corn? Kurt says to look for the first brimming bin full of the Valley’s sweetest next week.