Saturday, February 13, 2010

In which we celebrate Saturday Stories...and the wedding next door!

I have the best neighbors. Last summer they hopped over the fence and said, "you have horses but no hay storage. We have a big barn and no livestock. Do you want to store hay in our barn?"

Uh, YES!

Fast forward some months, and they hopped over the fence again. "Uh, about that hay...

"...would it be okay if we use it for extra seating when we get married in the barn this winter?"


Yesterday, Jim and Willy and I hopped over the fence and helped arrange the hay bales into comfortable seating for the wedding guests. The bride covered them with sparkley gold mesh, just for pretty.

Then they set up tables, real chairs, a sound system, and a dance floor in the barn.

Tonight, as the sun was setting in a clear blue-and-pink February sherbet sky, our neighbors got married in the barn.

(above) The bride with her oldest son.
(below) Youngest son of the bride and his cousin, all dressed up for the wedding!
(below) Our former neighbors--and grandparents of the bride. Herb rototilled my garden last spring, before they sold their house to the people who are now my neighbors.It was great to see them again!

There were lots of toasts to the bridal couple--but they were ready for the occasion.
Don't they look happy!

The bride is explaining how she saw and admired a woven cedar vest on display at the Burke Museum a few years ago, and how her husband's family is related to the James family of weavers from the Lummi tribe. One of his relations made the vest especially for this occasion, as well as woven cedar ties for the groom and all his attendants.

The cake topper is also made from woven cedar bark--truly a work of art!
You can see on their faces what they intend to do with the cake, can't you?

Oh, yeah!
In celebration of my neighbor's wedding, as well as a celebration of Saturday Stories, here's the story I told at the reception. I learned it from a book written by former Swamplander Pleasant DeSpain, and published it on this blog on December 23rd. Still, it's a good story, and deserves to get out of the box more than once a year. Share it with somebody, won't you?

Pulling the Rope : a traditional American story (retold)

Once upon a time, and it wasn’t so long ago, either, either, there was a girl.

You would never hear this girl say things like, “Oh, I could never lift that heavy thing.”

She would never say things like, “I’m just not sure what to do.”

And she would NEVER say things like, “Whatever you want is fine with me.”


This girl would rather say things like, “Let me give you a hand with that.”

Or she would say things like, “I’m sure I can handle it.”

And she would often say things like, “You have my word on it.”

So that was okay.

There was also a boy.

You would never hear this boy say things like, “Why don’t we wait and find out?”

He would never say things like, “I think it would be too difficult.”

And he would NEVER say things like, “I don’t have time to help.”


This boy would rather say things like, “This is my opinion.”

Or he would say things like, “I’m sure we can finish this by dinnertime.”

And he would often say things like, “You have my word on it.”

So that was okay.

As you might expect, the girl loved the boy.

And the boy loved the girl.

And when they got old enough to marry each other, that’s what they did.

They took his wagon into town, hired the hall and the preacher, and a fiddler. They invited their friends, and their family. And they got married.

So that was okay.

On the way home, when they were driving home together in the wagon, the girl said to the boy, “I hope you realize that I intend to be in charge of our household. I’m as smart as you. I’m as strong as you. I will give the orders, and I expect you to do what I say.”

But they boy said, “Now, that’s not right. I’m as smart as you. I’m as strong as you. I should be the one in charge of the household.”

And that might have been their very first argument, right there, but the boy had a better idea.

“Let’s have a contest,” he suggested. “The winner of the contest will be in charge of our household.”

And the girl agreed.

So that was okay.

When they got home, the boy got a long, long rope out of the barn. He held on to one end of the rope, and threw the other end of the rope over the roof of the house. Then he showed the rope to his new wife.

“You take hold of one end of the rope, and pull. I will pull the other end of the rope. Whichever of us pulls the entire rope over the roof of the house will be the one to be in charge of our household.

And the girl agreed.

So that was okay.

She took hold of her end of the rope and pulled.

He took hold of his end of the rope and pulled.

She pulled strong and hard.

So did he.

They stayed there, pulling, for nearly an hour. They got very tired, but neither of them could pull the rope over the house.

Then the boy had another idea.“I will stop pulling, and you will stop pulling. Then you can come to my side of the house, and I will show you something.”

So they stopped pulling, and she came over to his side of the house.

He handed her the rope.“Take hold of the rope. And I will take hold of the rope also, right next to you. And then we will pull the rope…


They did.

The rope came sailing over the roof of the house and landed at their feet, with hardly any work at all.

“So,” said the boy, “this is what I propose: that we run our household the same way that we pulled the rope.”

“Together?” she asked.

“Together,” he said.

And that is what they did.

They did the work, they cooked the meals, and they raised their family together. And they are still doing things together, to this very day.

And that is okay!

Friday, February 12, 2010

In which Fiddle takes me out for a trot, and we see what we can see

On an overcast day in the Swampland you can't exactly see for miles and miles.
The Swampland is a murky place, and it's not just the mud. Sometimes the rainclouds fly so low here that the top of Mount Ebey at elevation 1600 feet isn't visible from the pasture at Haiku Farm, a mere 3/4 mile away and 1250 feet lower. Yesterday was like that, but since the rain was lightweight (by comparison to recent heavy cold and "bloppy" rain), I decided that Fiddle and I should see how much further we could get on the road up the side of our neighborhood mountain.

The last time we went up this direction, I found a gated logging road branching off from the main road. I still haven't explored that yet. Instead, I wanted to see how far that "main road" went. The old USGS maps and satellite photos show it spiraling up to the peak above our house.
Here's something the satellite photos (which were taken summer 2008, as near as Jim and I can tell) didn't show:
Yes. A housing development. Srsly?
I cannot figure out who the heck would want to drive 30 minutes from town, up the side of a gravelled logging road so that they could live in a housing development. The lots are about an acre each, very swampy, not fit for any agricultural pursuits....
except, of course, for the plant life that was ripped down to build this little bit 'o strangeness:
The truffula-tree cutter operator didn't see Fiddle and me as we followed a little trail around the edge of this clearcut. Because, you know, together we stand only about 8 feet off the ground, and wear bright purple clothing and tack, and were thus nearly invisible?
Oblivious, I tell ya. And not just oblivious to watchers in the woods.
The trees being cut down are cedars, which grow in very wet soil. Does anybody bother to think ahead to next winter? The wet soil held in place by cedar trees will be anchored by a house with a 3-car garage.
Which is to say: not anchored at all.

Yep. It may take a year or two, but sooner or later the whole thing is going to start slithering downhill. Stay tuned: someday this is going to be really, really interesting.
As we headed downhill from Oblivious Acres, the sky was starting to lighten up in the west--not exactly sunshine, but a bit less rain.
Here's my nice clean horse, wearing a nice clean blanket, just turned out into the pasture. And what is the first thing she does?


Get all that cleanliness off! Quick! Before the other horses see it!