November 11, 2018
"Things happen for a reason."
Calochortus concolor (golden-bowl mariposa lily)
A very chilly morning here. There won't be any sweet corn from the garden for Thanksgiving this year. Actually I'm writing to say I won't be here on Turkey Day as we will be leaving early this coming Friday morning to head down to another Thanksgiving with family in the Coachella Valley. I expect to be home sometime early the week of November 26th. If you will need some seed before then please let me know so I can get it to you. I will be off collecting on Monday hoping to harvest Spiraea douglasii (rose spirea), Spiraea betulifolia (shiny-leaved spirea) and perhaps some other species. On Tuesday I plan to be over at the coast after Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry) and Arctostapylos uva-ursi (kinnikinick) and more. I will have Wednesday and Thursday for cleaning seed and filling any orders.
On the trip I expect to be collecting Aeculus californica (California buckeye) and Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm) and a couple other species. If you want either of those seeds or others and haven't placed an order for them yet let me know how much you want. My current list is attached. A couple species on the list in significant amounts that I don't usually have extra of are; Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar) and Chrysolepsis semperivrens (bush chinquapin). I will probably also have a little extra Alnus rhombifolia (white alder).
Three times in the last week and a half I have been harvesting the white alder along a well-used trail that follows a creek in a park near here. I have had many interesting conversations with people who are curious enough to ask what I am picking. I was up on an orchard ladder to harvest for two afternoons so that really sparked interest. It is fun hearing the enthusiastic responses when I told inquirers I will extract seed from the cones to supply to The Nature Conservancy and a couple nurseries who have placed orders to grow trees for restoration projects. Normally the crop for this species is quite light so the picking goes fast and I don't usually have so much exposure time to passersby. I come home happy from these interactions. I take the time to show most of those I interact with the male catkins that will open later in the winter to (hopefully) pollinate the miniature cones next to them. We marvel together at the wonders of nature. The nice afternoons we have been having recently help add to the mutual joy.
On a recent 3 day collecting trip over at the Oregon coast I was happy to find a new collecting spot for Iris douglasiana (Douglas's iris). This year made two consecutive years of light crops and to make matter worse two good collecting spots had been mowed and a house was being built at my best spot. I now have a little extra seed of this species available. The best thing from the trip was meeting a professional forager just as I was finishing up at the end of the last day of harvesting. Ty looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s. He collects mushrooms, botanicals and berries for a living. He was excited to meet me as he had been wanting to add seeds to what he does to enhance his income. I was excited to meet him as I needed someone dependable who lived over in that area. It was one of those chance meetings that feel ordained from above. As Ty walked back to his car that evening I heard him tell his dog, "Jack, things happen for a reason." As I write this, as far as I know, Ty and a friend are harvesting Gaultheria shallon (salal) berries to help me fill as much as possible of an order for 15 pounds of that tiny seed.
October 21st I attended the memorial service for Melvin Dybvig who died a month earlier. Melvin was 97. He and his father invented the Dybvig Seed Cleaner that I use to help clean much of the seed I harvest. It was a joyful celebration of a life well-lived. Melvin's son-in-law Bob and his daughter Paula continue to sell this versatile machine. The service I attended two days later for Nolan Henderson, a really special 16 year old young man in our community was a much more difficult service. Nolan tragically died on a Boy Scout outing when a rock came loose while he was climbing a mountain.
I don't know if Jack the dog understands the reasons for some things that happen. I know I don't. Even so, I do have plenty to be thankful for. I hope you do too.