More Oregon trip…
I was lucky to be able to spend a day and a half with my mom, trying on wedding outfits (for her). We found a gorgeous, sophisticated outfit (which will remain a surprise!), and then headed over to the coast for the night at her home with her fiancee, who reminds me of my grandpa — a warm, funny, old-fashioned gentleman. He’s a keeper. The next day after checking out the wedding site (for some reason none of my photos from this turned out well), I headed out to drive to my dad’s house for the afternoon.
The drive from the coast to the Willamette Valley is one of my favorites. Driving down an open highway, no one else in sight and a tunnel of perfect green ahead, I felt so relaxed. I just opened myself up to enjoying the drive. I wish I could have taken more photos but I was late for Dad’s… but it’s so beautiful.
First stop was at Yvonne’s. Yvonne is my dad’s girlfriend/partner/whatever. In an arrangement which works perfectly for them, she has her own little house a block or so away from Dad’s. She built this house mostly herself, with a lot of help from Dad. It’s very tiny but very cute. She calls it her ‘cabin’. I love the wood bannisters. She and Dad trimmed and polished these themselves. (Do not be fooled. This is not what my dad’s house looks like. Um, not at all.)
Then it was up and over the railroad tracks to the house I grew up in, my dad’s house. I love this house so much. It’s a little overgrown right now, and a little wild, but I love it that way. The inside is kinda shabby but so familiar. My brother and I have agreed that we are never selling this house.
In the backyard, we are met by Blue Eyes, my dad’s kitty. Here he is, out by the woodshed, waiting to take us on a tour.
This is the backyard, including part of the back patio (enclosed by glass) and my brother’s old fort. You can see what I mean about ‘overgrown’. However, there is a certain freedom from rules here that is so fun and refreshing. As long as you don’t step on fledgling plants in the garden, you can pretty much run wild, like the rest of the place.
This is the view if you just spin around from the previous view. The apple cider press is there on the left, a storage shed straight ahead, and the chicken coop on the right. My room was right on the other side of the wall where the apple press is. All summer long, I would wake up to hear the chickens clucking and sometimes the apple press being loaded. I dearly want a few chickens of my own someday.
Here’s the inside of the ‘food shed’ where my dad has a couple of freezers full of garden produce, fresh-caught fish and venison, and, as you can see, jars and jars of apple cider. There are even more in the rafters up above, and he hasn’t even made this year’s batches yet.
We all headed out to the garden to pick stuff for dinner. My dad always had a huge garden when we were growing up and I hated the upkeep. We had to help weed and harvest, of course… which was agony when all you want to do is lay in the shade with a huge book. Lots and lots of whining has taken place in this garden.
But, when you only have to pick what you want to eat, it sure can be fun.
A new addition to the garden are artichokes. We didn’t have them when I was growing up. Now they tower over the potatoes. I cut a few for our dinner, carefully avoiding the spines.
The final result? A dinner that would put San Francisco locavores to shame. It doesn’t get fresher than this. Artichokes, peas and potatoes harvested an hour before dinner, and local steelhead that my dad caught and barbecued, special request by me. In my old age, I actually am enjoying my dad’s fish. I joked that my birthday present to him this year was that I took a second helping of steelhead (something unheard of).
Looking over these photos, it’s not difficult to see where my longing for a big, wild yard comes from. I loved summers at home. Our yard was always a maze of funky sheds and barns, a huge garden, forts and hideaways. As soon as I stepped into the backyard Monday evening, I was thrilled to discover that it smelled like summer: a combination of green grass, chicken feed, hot berries and that indescribable scent of home. I’m so grateful that my dad has chosen to stay put in our house. It’s small, funky, jerry-rigged to the nth degree, and it’s like my own flesh and blood.