October Blue


The waning sun casts October skies with their own shade of blue. I suppose if I spent all my time outdoors, I could tell what week of the year it was just by the hue of the sky or the angle of the tree shadows. It’s said that many animals are sensitive to the length of daylight. For example, hens supposedly need fourteen hours of daylight to lay eggs. But maybe, it’s not the length of day but the color of the sky that they respond to.


Brown and Gold


The trees are going to sleep, shedding their leaves in ever increasing amounts, in a quiet ritual that has gone on for millions of years. When dreaming of autumn leaves, how many dream of asparagus with their golden feathery fronds?


It’s nearing winter, and yet there are still plenty of flowers in bloom; brilliant dahlias, blue rosemary, and white thyme. And this morning, more color came flying in from the north. We saw our first flock of white swans, flying over the valley. Many more are on their way to spend winter here, joining the flocks of snow geese which cover the fields like snow.


Skagit’s Freshest Tofu


It’s official. You can get Skagit county’s freshest tofu at Belfast Feed Store. Starting today, I’m delivering fresh tofu to them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, which means the tofu you buy there will never be more than three days old. If in doubt, look at the label. The date I make the tofu will be on it.


Belfast Feed store is at 6200 North Green Road, Burlington, Washington. They are just off of Old Highway 99, south of the Bow Hill and Prairie Road intersection. We’re giving this a test run through November.

Fall Feathers


One of the maples has leaves that look more like feathers than leaves. From spring through summer, they are the feathers of a green parrot. In the fall they turn into rooster feathers. In a light breeze, you can see the feathers flapping, trying to fly away.


On Fire


All it takes is for the clouds to part and let the sun shine to set everything on fire. Next to the pond, the snowbell fruits dangle like Christmas tree ornaments. Paint them different colors, and you’d have an outdoors Christmas tree.


Nearby the snowbell tree, the holly trees are waiting for migrating birds to snatch their orange berries. One migrating bird can eat a berry and deposit its seed far, far away. Who knows, by now, this holly tree may have children hundreds of miles away.


In the garden the magenta spreen is growing like crazy. I’m running low on greens to take to the two remaining Alger Sunday Markets. This weekend I’ll have plenty of fresh magenta spreen to offer.


I’ve let a few Swiss chard do their thing. This one is big enough to feed an elephant. The leaves are so large, one leaf could feed a family. The spitzkohl, pointy cabbage, are nearly done. You won’t find a tastier cabbage than spitzkohl. I don’t know why the stores don’t have bins of them. Well, I do know. Their odd shapes make them awkward to pick by machine, hard to pack, and cumbersome to handle. Not being efficient and easy to process is a death knell for any vegetable. Our relentless striving to be ever more efficient will drive us all to extinction.


And once we are all gone, who will pause to enjoy the beauty of autumn maples?

A Better Mother


While making tofu this afternoon I saw MiAsa 美朝 bring her two month old chicks out to graze under the plum trees by the cabin where I make my tofu. It’s hard to believe that in late August, the chicks were tiny bundles of fur peeking out from underneath her.


Now they are half the size of her. The whole family snuggles up together in one of the nests in the evening. Many hens are done raising their chicks by the time the chicks are this big, but MiAsa enjoys being a mother and having her little ones around her. She must be a special mother because among her chicks is one half the size of the others. You can see it in the photo above. It’s the much smaller, black chick to the left of her. It is actually a chick born to another hen weeks later, but who decided that it would rather hang around with MiAsa and her chicks instead of its own mother. What did it see in MiAsa that it didn’t see in its mother?


If you live nearby and you’d like fresh, homemade tofu, let me know. It is best when it is just made, still piping hot out of the press.


I’m prone to procrastinate, but Washington State makes it easy to vote. There are no polling stations in Washington. Everyone votes by mail. Our ballots arrived on Monday. We filled them out last night and sent them off today. It’s a relief to get that out of the way. Now if everyone would vote like I did, the world would be a much better, kinder place.

Redwood Down, Cedar Down


What goes up must come down. A strong wind helps. Friday’s storm snapped the top of a young redwood tree. It also snapped the top of a towering cedar tree. All is not lost. A fallen tree top is a fun playground for the dogs. Redwood and cedar branches make beautiful wreaths.


October Wind


Before today’s storm, we were able to gather most of the Asian pears off the tree. This year was a bumper crop and they are at their peak right now, sweet, juicy, and crunchy. I’ll take some to this weekend Alger’s Sunday Market, if tomorrow’s storm doesn’t blow us all away.


Today’s storm was strong enough to knock down a few trees across the driveway. We needed a chainsaw to get out to run an errand.


A Morning, a Day, a Hundred Years


We had another frosty morning. With each day, winter steps closer.


Takuma 拓真 and Ena 枝那 are helping me bring in as many beans as possible before the big storms arrive tonight and tomorrow. They can’t figure out why I’m bothering picking the bean pods. They both take one and chew on it, but they are not impressed.


This afternoon we stopped at an old church on a hill above Silvana about thirty miles south of us. It’s a lovely little church and we’ve visited it several times before.


The church is surrounded by graves, and we saw this one of a Lars and Randi Larson. Behind their gravestone were the graves of four infant children who all died between the ages of one and three. It took my breath away. It was only a little over a hundred years ago, and yet the graves speak of a harsh life I can’t fathom. From Snohomish County Biographies Abstracts, I learned that both Lars Larson and Randi Rorstad were from Norway and were dairy farmers. They had some children live, and evidently their ranch ended up being one of the few farms in the state which was managed entirely by women. I’m guessing that once Lars passed away, Randi and her daughters kept the dairy farm going.


Dying at just 44 years, Lars Larson never saw his living children grow up. What was it like for Randi, to bury her young husband and one infant after another? I’m not sure who the father was of the children that came after Lars died. Did she wonder why she left Norway? A hundred years from now when people look back on how we live, they’ll probably say the same thing, and wonder how we survived living under such harsh conditions.

Outdoor Cathedral


Through a cloudless October sky, the sunshine pours down, highliting the brilliant fall leaves. The cold nights are intensifying the fall colors. Maybe the fall colors are what guide the geese and the swans south. All they have to do is follow the yellow brick road of turning maples and poplars.


On the way to the post office is a row of towering poplars as grand as any stone cathedral. Today, they were tinged with gold. I had to stop to admire them. Watches are out for storms blowing through starting tomorrow night through the weekend. By the time the storms pass and cloudless skies return, many of these golden leaves may have flown away.