What’s in a Face?

Delivering eggs, bread, and tofu gives me a chance to enjoy the daffodil fields in full bloom. Daffodil and tulip fields in full bloom make up for all the gloomy Skagit Valley weather.

What’s in a face? It is said that chickens primarily recognize each other by their faces. They are so unique it’s not surprising. I’m sure you’d never confuse Hazel’s, Goldie’s, and Niji-hime’s distinct faces.

In a Perfect World

Sometimes you can’t be any happier. With our long, cold spell, I had no expectations of seeing any cherry blossoms when I went to see how the cherry buds were faring. I was sure it would be April before they would bloom. But I looked up and there they were, open blossoms, dancing in the spring breeze, dazzling against a cobalt-blue sky.

In a perfect world, the first cherry blossoms would make us stop everything we are doing, call into work and say, “I’m on vacation for the next few weeks. The cherry trees are in bloom.” We’d spend all day lying under the trees and clap each new blossom that opened. Or you could close your eyes, take a nap, and count how many more blossoms opened while you slept bathed in the sweet fragrance of cherry blossoms. And after two weeks or three, when the blooms were over, we’d lie under the trees and let the falling snow of cherry blossom petals bury us in pure joy.

Buzz Is in the Air

At long last, the plum blossoms are open. The cold February and early March put a damper on spring, but no more.

In the garden the bees are awake, digging out of their dens, and buzzing about. If they couldn’t find something to eat, they’d go elsewhere, which is why it’s a good thing to have a variety of early blooming flowers. Dandelions are hardly a weed. Their puffy yellow flowers satisfy the hunger of many a wild bee.

The amazing stinging nettles, Urtica dioica (worth reading about), are pushing up too. A bowl of stinging nettle tips stirred into beaten eggs make a great omelette. It takes but a few minutes of cooking to vanquish their sting. Stinging nettles are so nutritious the industrialists have banned them from supermarkets, not true really, but it does make you wonder why there aren’t heaps of stinging nettles in the grocery aisles.

These are what non-industrial eggs look like. The variety of hues and sizes is endless. I was wondering why the industrialists love to make everything look the same, and then I realized that if every carton of eggs you saw in a store was different, it would take forever for customers to decide which carton of eggs to put in their shopping cart. Drag a few little kids with you to the store, and little Annie would be clamoring for the carton with more blue eggs in it while little Ken would be demanding the carton with the darkest eggs. Parents would hate to take their kids into the egg section of a store. Sales of eggs would drop because shoppers couldn’t make up their minds as to which eggs to buy. Have all the eggs look the same and get on with it, convince shoppers that all eggs are the same, speed the masses along, that’s the plot of the industrialists.

Summer at Last

Yesterday I was celebrating the final arrival of spring. Today it is summer. How did that happen? A brilliant Oreas Anglewing (Polygonia oreas) spread its wing on the birch in front of the house. The sweet daphne opened their blossoms, filling the air with their sweet perfume.

With warm, sunny, summery days like this, these tomato seedlings will have plump tomatoes early in the season.

Spring at Last

A few days ago little patches of snow remained in the shadows. Today they are all gone. Late January daffodil buds which went dormant with February snows are in bloom now, as is the first plum blossom.

The rhubarb are popping out of the ground. If any spring leaves need to get out of the ground and stretch, it is the tightly crumpled rhubarb leaves. They are so tightly bound up, they look like they are in pain.

The ducks are having a good time checking out the bamboo leaves I placed on the paths between the rows in the gardens. The warm weather has the hens laying a lot of eggs, thirty-three today.

Wednesday is the vernal equinox. It should be a national holiday like it is in Japan. There are five national holidays in Japan having to do with nature, the vernal equinox, the autumnal equinox, Green Day (May 4 this year), Ocean Day (the 3rd Monday of July), and Mountain Day (August 11). One national holiday a month celebrating an aspect of nature would be nice.

Along Friday Creek to Get Coffee

Last night’s rain washed away nearly all the snow. Just a few patches remain, and with the forecast of warmer days ahead, it will soon be but a memory.

The chicks in the nursery are doing well. They’ve bonded with their mother and have figured out when she is telling them she’s found good things to eat, and when there is danger. When she is resting, she doesn’t mind them hopping all over her. Since these aren’t chicks she hatched, I wasn’t sure if she’d take to them, or them to her.

I don’t suppose there are that many people lucky enough to pedal along an idyllic creek when they go pick up their roasted coffee beans. It’s not a long ride to where I get my coffee, but the windy Friday Creek Road passes over Friday Creek six times in two miles. It’s hard pedaling over the bridges without stopping to see how the creek is doing.

Friday Creek today was on a tear, flush with last night’s rain. On summer days, it flows soft and clear, skipping over pebbles, and laughing past the trees.

Let It Do Its Thing

We get into trouble when we don’t let things do their thing in the time it takes for them to do whatever they are doing. You can make bread quickly by adding things like calcium carbonate, sodium sterol lactylate, mono-and diglycerides, mono calcium phosphate, calcium dioxide, soy lecithin, azodicarbononamide, calcium propionate, datem (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides, also E472e), sorbic acid, and other miraculous chemicals, such as many commercial breads use, but why would you?

Or you can let it rest quietly through the night, and let the wild yeasts and bacteria munch on the dough until in the morning it is light and fluffy like a cloud from all their miniature burps. No odd ingredients needed.

There is something pleasing about dough that wild yeast has fed on all night. It shapes easily, and feels so good in my hands.

What comes out of the hot oven fills the house with such wonderful aromas.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday the sun was out, and the snow geese gaggled up a storm on the open field, as I delivered fresh tofu to the Anacortes Food Co-op.

Today the blue skies are gone, and snow is falling steadily as I head out to the cabin to make tofu for tomorrow. In the nursery, the chicks are staying warm with their mama. One of these days it will be warm and sunny and the chicks will be chasing bugs in the grass, just not today.