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Monday, June 29, 2020

The End of June

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good–and how he treats people who can’t fight back.” – Abigail Van Buren

Well June pretty much flew by, it's hard to believe this weekend coming up is already the fourth of July. Back when I was a kid, I sometimes worked summers for a hay bailing outfit in the valley, cleaning up the straw left behind after the swathers and combines had taken the millions of pounds of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass seed that the Willamette is famous for. It was often an index of the season if the straw bailing started before the fourth of July as that meant it had been an early season. I spent a lot of Independance days, however driving a tractor towing a hay bailer at about 2 miles an hour through hundreds of acres of windrowed straw. Every so often I could see the fireworks as tiny little puffs of light from one of the valley towns like Brownsville or Tangent. But usually the dew would come down and the straw would get too wet sometime around midnight, long after the fire works had finished. We would pile into the farm pickup for the hour or so drive back to Salem, faces covered in dust, and sometimes we would talk about how many mice had been picked up by the bailer tines and flung into the waiting talons of  the red tailed hawks that followed us around the field in search of an easy meal. No big life lessons here really, just recollections and memories of growing up in the country. The spring gave way to summer although the weather didn't totally agree who was in charge as it went from 90 and sunny to 50's and rainy this past week. 

The lily bloom is going well this year. 

This is a new one for me, the supposedly Hardy Amaryllis 'Alaska' I'm trying out next to the colchicums in the foundation bed.  

I've been adding a lot of lilies to the rock garden lately. 

Lilies and a Hesperis foil, make a good combination.

Anya and I and some of her school mates made the brutal descent into Tumble lake from French Creek to see what we could find of the mountain flora. I was thinking it was early but pleasantly surprised to find some nice things blooming. That is Detroit lake in the background. 
It was a great hike, saw some Calochortus, saxifrage, a lot of different color forms of penstemon, it was early for the lilies though. I remember nice patches of L. washingtonianum from this hike and they were still a few weeks out. 

Anya finished up her Junior year aquaponics homeschool project and turned in her final report. It was a fun project and we both learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in using fish to make fertilizer for your vegetable production. One big lesson, the racoons will wreak all sorts of havoc in the fish ponds, but they don't particularly care for baby ceasar romaine which produces well  in that environment. Hard to believe she is a Senior in Highschool now.

My little pastoral country road got 2 huge streetlights installed this week and it really rocked my world, no notice from the county and PGE told me they can put them wherever they want, I literally have flood lights shining directly into my windows and can read a book in the middle of the night from the intensity. It made me think back to those long drives home from the straw fields well past midnight on the country roads of the willamette valley and how I may have taken for granted the ability to look up and see the stars at night. It's sad to see the sprawl continue unabated, the valley isn't the same place as it was when I was a kid, that's for sure.  You probably haven't heard the last of this one as I'm gravely concerned about the effects of 24 hour lighting on the nursery production and am doing everything I can to get rid of them. 

From one of my favorite bands, the Arcade Fire:

                              "Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
Then we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights"



  1. Wonderful post (as all of yours are!) What a wonderful childhood you had! I agree entirely about the lights: they're installing LED's in Denver that glare so brightly you can't see the road in front of you at night. Engineers run amok. One of my faorite local greenhouses (defunct now alas!) couldn't get the city to remove a light that hampere their poinsettia production, so they'd just shoot it out Took a year to replace it and then they'd shoot it out again. The city never figured it out.

  2. HI Panayoti, thanks for the note! I read an article that was talking about the rise of LED lights and how the light pollution has gone up so much in the last decade since they became commonplace. It seems that it's so much cheaper to operate them so that the power companies put three times as many in to compensate for the lost revenue. Meanwhile we are left blinded by the light and i'm deeply concerned about the impacts on my flowers.