Friends, October 29, 2019
The “Big Dark” has begun. That’s what the locals call the long stretch of dark and rainy days we get in Fall and Winter here in western Washington. We just finished a ten-day stretch when the skies were dark gray and cloudy from sunrise to sunset. This weather is what drove my father away from the west coast. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, and filled me in on the names and lore of this country when I was a youngster. I had no idea he was giving me valuable information on names and life here in the great Northwest. I never expected to live in this state, but it was helpful to know about the Palouse and how to pronounce some of the tricky names of cities here, like Chehalis. My dad was a double Leo, ruled by the Sun, and he took it as a personal offense when bad weather prevented him from getting out and playing golf. So, he ended up in Oklahoma, “where the wind comes sweeping down the plains” – and it does – not much better weather to me as it’s hot, hot and cold, cold there (with an occasional twister). And while we have lots of rain and clouds here, when it breaks, and the sun comes out, the days are glorious. And that is what’s happening now. Highs in the 50’s and bright sunshine have been on the weather map all week and even looking ahead for few more days. And it’s so beautiful now. The air is pure and invigorating; everything is washed clean. Golden leaves from our maples cover the backyard. The scenes on the backroads are like a Norman Rockwell painting with giant splashes of colorful maples dressed in red outlined against dark green firs and evergreens. Every road we wander down is so lovely, and we take our time driving to the store in Ferndale or to the Post Office in Blaine. And to us, this is all still so beautiful under cloudy skies – we enjoy the ride rain or shine.
Leslie and I love cloudy, rainy days. We turn on the little gas fireplace in the living room and put something tasty in the oven for dinner. Our house is cozy, and we are homebodies deluxe with an open bottle of wine on the kitchen counter. The good news for local farmers and ranchers is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture set the new benchmark for milk at a good price. I’ve never understood why this is so, but the price of milk, butter, and cheese is set, and this year, dairymen will get $1.51 per gallon of milk, up from $1.38 a year ago. They need the increase to stay in business as costs keep rising. Bad reports came in from the berry harvest. Farmers reported an 11% decline in production in the raspberry fields from last year, which was a record harvest. Bad weather, a cold snap early in the year, was blamed for the loss of production. This doesn’t worry me because when you drive down the backroads with raspberry fields on both sides, you also see these huge, fabulous houses on the same property. There’s money to be made in raspberries – who knew?
The next big money maker from Washington will show up in your grocery stores next year. A new variety of apple, named “Cosmic Crisp”, has been developed at Washington State University in Pullman. This bright red apple has a higher acid content, and that means it travels well. They say the sweet crisp texture will taste the same if you picked it yesterday or flew it 2,000 miles to Hawaii. It’s going to be expensive due to farmers having to pay the school a fee (to offset their costs of development) for getting their orchards planted with the new variety. But Washington growers get a measure of protection from the school as they will be the only ones to have this new variety to sell for the next ten years. After that time it will be sold to other farmers and likely become more plentiful.
If you want your own personal reading for 2020, I suggest you get in touch with me as soon as possible; I’ll be booked heavily in December. Send me an email if you have questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.