Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh brave world-how have you changed!

A lot of other people's spring weather seems to have been whacky, but ours is suddenly reverting to an age-old pattern of alternating sunny stretches with heavy rain showers; the perfect gardening weather on a year when my garden is cracking under the pressure of everything else. Ah, well, everything else has been either necessary or pretty darn fun.
Whenever we come to The Mainland, there's always a kind of shadow agenda. It's never just "let's go see a show and have fun!", it's always let's go celebrate mom's birthday/see a show/visit Goodwill bins/bee store/hardware store. There's always tons of errands to run. 
Thankfully Seatown is the place to get keyed and coffeed up. While Mali desperately wanted to go to supercool Stumptown, we ended up in old shcool Fremont, where the barista actually once drew a skull on top of my latte when I pointed out that their non-organic soymilk probably had gmo-soy in it. Snap! That's a pretty cool way to get back at those annoying hippiesters.

Not that there aren't hippies in Fremont.
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Our one constant in Seattle is Hardwick's hardware store, the only hardware store I can spend time in.  Hardwick's is really old-fashioned, with tons of stuff and lots of staff to answer your questions. Whenever someone tells me I could be something online for cheap, I'd always rather come to a place like this. I like to touch things, talk to people.
There's an old Finnish saying that "a poor man can't afford cheap things", meaning that you should rather buy based on quality and not price, because otherwise you end up buying the cheaply made, worse quality things over and over again. It helps if there's a knowledgable salesperson to help you.
I mean look at this place! Mom and pop stores are the best. There's a hat store in downtown Seattle that C. frequents (he went this time sans Mali and me) that's a hundred years-old and has at least three staff members there at all times. You're not just shopping, you're learning a ton about the product you're buying.
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 Same with bee stores. Each time we visit one we end up learning some new trick, some intricacy particular to our regions apiarists. Bee store owners are without fail founts of useful information. 
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Funnily enough, when we first entered the store, he was taken aback when we started asking about supplies. "I wouldn't have taken you for a beekeeper." he told me "I just thought you were buying some honey. Not many young beekeepers around here." Well that's about to change.
Both my colonies made it through the winter and hopefully will have a good, productive spring. My ability to manage them is still a little shaky, but so far we've done well. 
It was such a thrill to see them fly out, the brand new golden babies, a few generations removed from those I fed in the fall, coming in with their happy orange dandelion pollen pants. 
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Creatures everywhere around here are out in force. Little lambs and baby cows, birds, both exotic and not. These guys live at our feed store. I read somewhere that peacocks beget peacocks. If you have a few, you will have more, apparently. 
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Our friend's down South had some new additions to their flock. 
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Trees are blooming, the cherries and plums almost done, the apples in full. Feeding my bees, encouraging them to fill their sacks with light green pollen.  Some animals, of course, are less hard-working. No matter, it's important to remember to laze about. 
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Amidst classes, wild crafting, house renovations, getting sick for the second time all the while C.'s sister was visiting, secret projects and live-stock management, I have gotten in a few outings. We're still at the cob, a swallow's nest of a house, but look forward to moving back to our own house in the next few days.

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With the weather alternating wildly, I've had plenty of opportunity to both get sun-kissed and wear my new Softspoken beret
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There have indeed been many plants and animals out and about, including some wild and weird ones.
More peacocks, with giraffes, toadstools, whisky-drinking frogs, owls, dragons, gmo-bugs and countless bees, roaming the streets. Friends of ours patterned this celebration for Earth Day after a famous one in Olympia. 
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Our costumes were last minute, but it was a lot of fun. I recommend every community start something like this; a parade for life and fun!
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Amid all the hubhub and hard work, C. and I took some much needed alone time. Of course, we are alone together all the time, but so often we are tired, or busy and it is important to just spend time, talk, or not, just be in each other's presence. 
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So we went mushrooming. It is the tail end of the morel season and for once we were there right on time. We never get more than a meal's worth, but the point is not the haul but the auspices of ambling in the forest, paying wild attention. 
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Morels are magical. More often than not they hide in plain sight, a few feet from the path, clearly visible but hidden, revealing themselves only to those who are looking. If you find one, you'll sometimes find another, a third. If you try to see them, they appear, as though out of nowhere.

Once I saw C. looking at something in a little thicket-y nook in the trees. I strained my eyes and saw a huge more right there, as though in a spotlight. "Wow. How'd you notice that?" I asked in awe. "What? He said. He had been looking at something else, not even noticing the morel. Magic I tell you.
They often grow near these orchids, sharing their habitat. 
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We also gathered other edibles, namely fiddleheads, which have some controversy about them, but we eat them anyway. They can be a little bitter, but with butter, salt and pepper they have an asparagus-like texture. 
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Morels aren't the only one's good at hiding. Find the frog, win the prize.
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That's quite the haul for only three hours of gathering. And a pinecone imitating a morel. They do that.
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These little blooms have no chlorophyll in these little blooms. No one quite knows how they function. Nature's magic. 
There are easier ways to add wild to your meal. Simply gather some dandelions. 
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Oh and since I'm at Sister's house, I can't help but give you a little sneak peek of our other time consuming project.  Hope she won't be mad. Back to work then. Happy Spring Days, bees and blooms and birds!