Home on the Mountain

I don’t seem to get myself over to Alder Creek Farm very often or for long enough to see the elusive otters that Doug wrote to us about. It was exciting to find the very old vine leaf maple the other day though and the mystery plant full of bees when Barbara, Vivi and I were on thistle & tansy patrol. And Tom and I saw a deer cozily chewing her cud under an apple tree when we stopped in to admire the absence of at least one of the old vans.

I am mostly ensconced and entranced here on our little piece at the knee (ankle?) of the Mountain these days. The hedge nettle patch I’m grooming near the hot tub and the self-heal by the fire pit steps. The huckleberries and Tom’s cedar grove on the north side of the hollow call me often, the cedar having finally outgrown the reach of the elk. Tom planted them just before building the house the second time in 1978. I’m falling in love all over again with the tiny old fashioned roses we purloined from Sam and Beulah Reed’s old Neahkahnie Tavern site that same year. Manure from the farm is giving them new life this summer. But despite manure, there are still no blooms on the Nootka rose Tom brought over from the bay. I wonder what they need to feel at home after all these years. That spring & summer of planting was such a healing one for Tom after the house fire (of which Doug was a witness). I was growing a baby then – a healing and a new beginning of a different sort. That planting, come to think of it, is certainly bearing fruit as well these days at LunaSea Gardens. As Jeff Trenary and I agreed recently, it’s a mighty good crop we’ve grown. I have given up on finding the Columbia lily bloom again this year – a few Junes ago there were over a dozen of the plants. One tall and, I assume, old one had at least that many flowers on it. It’s way beyond late now, especially with all the sun this year. I wonder if the elk or deer ate them. I would’ve if I could’ve, they were that beautiful. They didn’t eat the wild hollyhocks (Henderson’s checker mallow) this year that have been gorgeous, though almost gone now. The beauty of our tiny meadow/fairy garden has gone from white (cow parsnips and fringe cups) to purple (wild hollyhocks & foxglove) and yellow (cats eyes). It is showing up now in tall grasses going to seed and thimble berries – the best ever. It looks to be a good salal berry year again – could it ever match the juiciness of last year, the likes of which I’d never tasted? Mache Raven (next generation Tallman) and I have also been enjoying the tiny wild strawberries. The other night while we were doing that we noticed a mama bird of the little brown non-descript sort coming and going from a hanging nest right about shoulder height in the Sitka spruce. We sat and watched for quite awhile until the attentiveness of that mama with the little bugs reminded Mache of the absence of his own mama.

So it goes. I had no intention of writing so much. Thanks for the inspiration, Doug.

Congrats to all of us for the first educational day. If we buy it, they will come (committee structure, rules or not!)

This was the summer of a group of us starting the Lower Nehalem Community Trust and taking on the transition of Alder Creek Farm on the Nehalem Bay Estuary from dairying to restoration, conservancy and community gardens.