These Orange-Red apricots are delicious, and beautiful, and Farmer Al at Frog Hollow Farm was kind enough to give me a couple to bring home from the Santa Cruz farmers market yesterday. Drippy almost down the chin, they were.
Orange-Red: today's theme, in a certain way. At least the theme of the hot and smoky afternoon in Santa Cruz, where yesterday I ventured from the vast distance of six miles away. Thirteen if you count the trip to the Community on the Hill, as UCSC is known: that is where I went to retrieve my beautiful daughter for a visit to the market.
I left my house in Soquel (this means nothing to most of you, I know, but think of my tiny little unincorporated village as both the center of antique shopping AND as "Mayberry LSD") shortly before 3:30. Five minutes later, I was trying to call my mother, and saw a big plume of smoke in the sky. As I crept up the hill, it grew less white and more orange. A bad sign.
Still, the market was great, and I haven't been feeling great for so long—fighting the bronchial thing, which I am seriously considering blaming on the LBAM spraying last November, since so many people, even young people, have been sick for weeks with a bad cough. Getting out was a treat, despite the hot and dry weather.
It's a melée at the downtown market on a hot day. The masses know that stone fruits, basil, and more are awaiting them, and throng they will. Still, it was weird to be surrounded by so hundreds of people with varying knowledge of what was causing the pollution in the sky. If you walked into the market from the standard entrance, you saw only blue skies. If you turned around facing west, you would have seen this:
One farmer friend, Joe Rubin at Live Earth Farm, got a distressing phone call right as I walked up, saying friends of his were being forced to evacuate, but they own 20 alpacas. He was wondering if he could use the farm truck to get up there and help—my guess is that didn't happen, because when I returned to the UCSC West Entrance, police cars were blocking Empire Grade Road, which goes to Bonny Doon.
Lots of cell phones and lots of speculation: a brush fire? Grass fire? Too much smoke to be just grass, and Bonny Doon is filled with redwoods.
It was a nervous though beautiful market, and the best news I had all day was seeing Patricia Rain, aka "The Vanilla Queen." I've been wanting to post a letter I got from her back at the end of April, but haven't. It will bear its own post, since it's long and filled with her latest news, which included an amazing spur-of-the-moment trip to China, and the details of her cancer, which had returned. (She pulled up her shirt, à la LBJ, to show me the three-armed scar—like the Mercedes logo without the enclosing circle—that is her Badge of Courage from a recent major surgery.)
The good news is that she looked radiant and strong. Please keep our National Treasure in your prayers and good thoughts.
Talk of the fire overshadowed socializing, but I did see the Schirmer family, and Joe's mother, Robin Somers, who is now also on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden with me. She and her husband are the happy grandparents of a new baby boy: Joe's sister's second son. (And Joe and his wife, Miranda, are themselves due with a baby in early October. Everybody's happy about that!)
I came home with treasures: rainbow chard and red leaf lettuces from the Schirmers at Dirty Girl; Ronde de Nice squash from Happy Boy Farms; blood oranges from Will Brokaw; the apricots from Frog Hollow, and bing cherries from Mora Farms. Sweet and delicious and messy cherries. Heaven.
After two hours downtown, our return up the hill showed the sun now obscured by smoke, and looking like a red-orange lightbulb in the sky. Ominous.
• • • • • • • • • • •
I've been working on a new project that has me very excited, and I bet you will be, too. Rebecca Thistlethwaite, of TLC Ranch, is starting her own webslog, which will be called "Honest Meat." I designed a banner for her, and am providing some tech support, and she is going to be using a lot of my photographs of healthy animals outdoors, raised with love and caring, to illustrate the GOOD work that sustainably and humanely raised livestock is. And yes, I can imagine that some muckraking is coming down the pike, because Rebecca is not only informed when it comes to the government and the market, but she lives it. I'll let you know as soon as it's live.
• • • • • • • • • • •
Another weblog that is new to me is Jellypress. It's the collaboration of the sister (Nancy) of a friend (Janet) with Nancy's friend, Laura. Nancy paints, Laura writes, and Nancy writes, too. It's beautifully done: friendly, like the kind of women I'd want to hang out with. Hey, that's a great idea! Now to get back East again.
• • • • • • • • • • •
That's all for today. Coming up: Patricia Rain, Claravale Dairy, and some of the great happenings up at the UCSC Farm.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.” — Sir William Bragg
Thanks for visiting. More farms soon!