It has been a gentle month. Today, dressed for damp fall weather, I completed a garden chore that might seem a bit silly to some. Here in Grants Pass, and in the Pacific Northwest in general, it has rained more this October than it has for many years. Between Atmospheric Rivers and Bomb Cyclones dumping inches of rain, there have been a few breaks in the clouds. Leaves are starting to fall, but the main event won’t happen until mid to late November. In the meantime, little jobs await outdoors for a break in the weather.
The annuals in my cutting garden bed are so happy that the weather has cooled
My silly project has to do with lifting plants in the hot summer and replanting them when things cool down in the fall. For most of my life, I have either planted bulbs in the fall, or lifted dahlias and gladiolas before the hard freezes of winter destroy them. Here, the glads and dahlias stay in the ground all season, happily popping up every spring. Sometimes the glads have moved around a bit in the garden, thanks to the moles and gophers, but most of the time they all appear somewhere eventually.
Primroses blooming in March
The primroses are a different story. Primroses love the damp, cool weather of the Pacific Northwest. They are also fairly hardy in reasonable winter temperatures. When I lived near Spokane, I so envied the brilliant borders of Juliet purple primroses that seemed to line every path and rock garden in the lush neighborhoods of the South Hill area. I finally bought a couple at the local perennial nursery. I have moved and babied those two little plants for decades. First to my home in Klamath Falls, then to Mo’s home at Rocky Point, and now finally settled here at Sunset House. They have multiplied into a treasured row of fluffy purple primroses that light up the entry walkway here spring.
Cool pots for the primroses to hide in during the hot summer
The problem is, Grants Pass may be in Oregon, but it is definitely not the cool, damp Pacific Northwest environment that allows them to thrive. Every summer, when the July heat and drought hit, in spite of prolific watering, they start to turn brown and crispy. They hate our summer heat. So I dutifully lift them each year and let them spend the summer in the shade of our thick photinia shrubs, hand watering them almost daily to help them survive our brutal summers.
I spent the little break in the weather today transplanting those sweet little primroses from their summer boxes to their showcase row along our walkway. A few of them are already showing their happy purple faces lit with tiny yellow centers. As I planted, I found the sprouts of the miniature yellow daffodils that start blooming in between the primroses in February.
It was a sweet chore, and I relished the moist soil, the water droplets on leaves, and the incredible lushness of an Oregon garden when it isn’t 108 in the shade, the rains are months away, and the well has to be so carefully managed. I haven’t had to think about the well for a month. All the water systems are turned off. It feels easy and peaceful.
The trees that we planted almost 4 years ago when we finished building Sunset House are strengthening and growing bigger every season. This year has been especially colorful, not only in our yard but throughout Grants Pass. Maybe it is the healing rains that have been so consistent and the temperatures that got down to 32F Degrees only once. Zinnias, dahlias, roses are still blooming in the midst of brilliant orange, yellow, and red leaves. It is quite a feast for the senses.
It was a gentle month for many reasons. With our Utah trip behind us, we had nothing huge on the agenda for the month of October. Finally, I could bring out the fall and Halloween decorations.
Maryruth and I decided to spend some simple girly time enjoying an early lunch accompanied by Lavender Lemon Drops at the Bohemian, a cute downtown venue in a building more than 100 years old. The food is delicious as well, and the place is delightful if a bit noisy.
Later that afternoon, Mo and I drove through the slanting afternoon sunlight to Schmidt Family Vineyard for wine and pizza. We were treated to music by a blues duo, including Broadway Phil, an artist we have followed for years. Blues and a pale moon in the blue sky and brilliant light on the trees made for some sweet moments.
Mo took advantage of the breaks in the rain to finish painting the new deck addition. I shopped for some young, new herb plants to replace the ones we had to take out when we extended the deck. Mo built some new steps for me, easier to navigate than what we had previously.
I cleaned up the big Weber BBQ that I used to have to climb up and down the stairs to use and we hauled it up to the deck. No longer will I need to run up and down to try to cook something, and its position on the bigger deck doesn’t get in the way of our view as it did in the smaller space we had prior to building the extension.
I spent some of the month working on the quilt project that I bought when we were passing through Florence on our last trip to the coast. I loved the fabric, didn’t have a pattern, and decided that a disappearing 4 patch would be a simple way to showcase the pretty fall colors. Not so simple, I had forgotten all those points that needed matching, but it turned out OK. I then made placemats and napkins to go with it.
Later in the month, it was my turn to hostess for the women of my newish Grants Pass Book Club. Nine women showed up for goodies, wine, hot cider, and great conversation. I enjoy entertaining people this way, but just not too often, please. I don’t know why I get so wound up over it because everything almost always turns out just fine.
I love this group of women and am enjoying the book club tremendously. Our book for November was to be either a Native American author or a story about Native Americans. We chose Louise Erdich’s recent book, “The Night Watchman”. An excellent choice.
The days were sliding by easily, and Mo reminded me that we did need to plan an outing of some sort for the MoHo for October. We try hard not to miss doing some kind of travel each month. I managed to get a reservation toward the end of the month for a great site at Harris Beach State Park. By the time our day of departure rolled around, the infamous Atmospheric River was heading straight for Oregon. We knew to expect three days of hard rain, wind, and possible flooding. Ah yes, the Oregon Coast is fun even in the rain.
It was raining when we left home, but by the time we arrived in Brookings and got set up the weather let up a bit. Our site was an old favorite, C3, just to the south of the full ocean view sites along the front line of the park, but big and private, and even with a tiny sliver of ocean view out our windows.
We drove down to the beach and were aghast at the huge waves pounding the shoreline, completely covering the beach. It was King Tide time on the coast and the weather only added to the drama. After exploring the beach a bit from the dry car, we drove south of town to Brookings Harbor. The surf was wild along the south Chetco River jetty, with huge logs brought in from the storm
A bit later we drove north along Highway 101 to see if possibly we could find another dramatic view of the wild surf. Not far north of town, we came to an exit we have never explored. The road to Lone Ranch Beach is marked as a Day Use Area only, and in all our years visiting the Oregon Coast we have never driven down to the beach. What a surprise.
The clouds broke enough for us to walk a bit and explore the beach and a bit of the Oregon Coast Trail that continues north from the beach. It was quiet, almost empty except for two other cars. We saw only one person walking and by the time we got back to our car he and his dog were loading up to leave. Mattie loved her chance to run free on the beach unleashed with no one else around to bother her or us.
The night was loud with rain pounding the roof, and yet we slept great soothed by the sounds. I could hear the roar of the ocean all night. The next morning dawned rainy as expected. We relaxed, read, played cards a bit, had a late breakfast, and then decided to go exploring a bit. Mo searched out Dog Parks in Brookings.
In the wet rain, Mattie didn’t think much of Stout Dog Park, toward the center of town in a small neighborhood. We walked to the new dog park built at the entrance to the Chetco Point Trail The signage for this park was nonexistent, but we did manage to find it. It was well fenced with separate big and little dog areas, but the wind and rain made it not much fun for Mattie.
Mattie was just 9 months old or so in the bottom photo on that sunny day in 2015
We walked down the trail just a bit, marveling at the wild surf, and took photos of Mattie on the same picnic table where we photographed her on our first trip to the coast with her when she was brand new to us. The rain was heavy enough that we didn’t particularly want to linger or hike. Instead, we drove to a small quilt shop I had never discovered before. The owner said she had been there for six years. Not sure how I missed this one, but I had fun wandering around looking at goodies and purchased a couple of patterns for Quilt as You Go projects, something I have never tried.
By the time we returned to the MoHo, Mo decided that rain or not she wanted a campfire. We have enjoyed rainy campfires in the past, and she pulled out the umbrellas for us. I waited inside for the fire and finally Mattie and I joined Mo with the drippy skies adding to the ambiance of the warm fire. Not bad.
On Wednesday, as expected, we woke to brighter skies and no rain. Our plan was to drive north to Bandon, walk around town a bit, and then return in time for a fish and chips late lunch at the Crazy Norwegian. It was a gorgeous day, and we took our time along the highway, stopping at several overlooks to enjoy the views of the ocean and the coast. We stopped in the little town of Port Orford to be sure the restaurant would be open, and just across the street was another quilt shop. My willpower didn’t hold up and I left with 5 yards of magnificent fabric for which I have no determined use. Quilters will understand.
For the first time in a long time, we enjoyed walking around Bandon when it wasn’t raining! Our first stop was Face Rock Creamery where I bought some yummy cheeses and we had ice cream. One scoop is huge! and Delicious as well. By the time we parked in town near the Coastal Mist Chocolate Shop, I was too full to enjoy my most favorite sweet, the Drinking Chocolate! I can’t believe I couldn’t manage a little cup of perfect heaven. I knew fish and chips were waiting and the ice cream was still digesting, so no dreamy hot chocolate this time.
Our first stop was the book store, another favorite place to spend time. I enjoyed looking for a gift book for the December book club get-together. We then wandered town a bit more and I found a lovely little cottage shop full of cottagey stuff. I even found something to buy there that looks perfect in my fall décor at home. It always amazes me how creative people who have shops like this manage to take a bunch of tattered junk and make it appear beautiful and oh so tempting. If I tried it, it would be just a bunch of junk in a room!
By the time we left Bandon and returned south along the coast toward Port Orford, it was late afternoon. We arrived at the Crazy Norwegian just at 4:30, in time to settle into the last table available in the front area of the restaurant.
I didn’t know until we paid the bill when we left that there were four more tables in a nook to the right of the main dining room. I always think of Nina when I see the Crazy Norwegian. She wrote about it more than once when she and Paul were volunteering at the lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park.
It was getting late in the day, and we wanted to give Mattie one more chance to run on a beach before going back to camp. We stopped at another new site we haven’t visited before. Arizona Beach is a day-use-only area along Highway 101. Once again, we had the beach to ourselves, and Mattie could run as free as she wanted to.
When we arrived back at camp, it was almost dark and unbelievably, not raining! Mo built a big campfire again, using up the rest of our dry wood brought from home, including some very big madrone logs that she managed to split. The fire was hot and wonderful, and once again I felt silly for not bringing the marshmallows on this trip. We were expecting three days of rain!
I felt something on this trip that I haven’t felt in a long time. Completely relaxed. I didn’t feel I had to worry about anything that needed to be done, any unfinished projects waiting for me, chores and leaves in the yard overwhelming my mind in the middle of the night. Mo was driving and I was daydreaming as I watched the beautiful landscape roll by and thought, “I want to hold this feeling always, I want to take it home with me.”
So far, I have done well with this thought. I spent a day yesterday doing nothing except wash the bedding, make the bed, and crawl into it to read the new book. The day before yesterday, I did manage to get out in the morning before the rain started to blow some leaves and rake a bit. But the pressure isn’t building as it often does for me. The leaves will wait for us. Chores will get done, or not. If not today, then tomorrow. This blog will get written, or not. But as I write I realize that this time, it isn’t a chore or a job I need to finish. It is something I am doing because it pleases me in this moment.
Dinner will be leftovers from last night tacos, and I don’t have to worry about house cleaning till the weekend. The house is fine. The leaves will wait. I can do whatever I want whenever I want. Such a feeling of freedom. It is something to realize that a lot of pressures and deadlines are completely self imposed and are absolutely unnecessary. For the moment at least, all is good.