A Sunday morning orchard
As a very frail-sounding Johnny Cash sings “I’ll meet you further on, up the road” like he really means it, I’m tucking in to the other necessity of our Sunday morning spiritual, bacon and eggs. The door to the trailer is wide open even though there is a thick layer of frost covering the orchard outside and the coffee in my ‘Black Bear Diner’ mug is already close to freezing. Just then Lex stumbled through from the cabin in her dressing-gown after at least four calls of “breakfast’s ready” and asks exactly why the door has to be open when it is, quite obviously, fucking cold! “Look” I reply, taking another mouthful of heart attack, and nod out the door.
Right now the almond trees are just beginning to blossom, the red-tailed hawks and white-tailed kites are starting their pre-nesting courtship displays, and the sun is being unseasonally shiny. Yesterday we moved the trailer from where we had originally set up camp to a spot deeper into the orchard and away from the hustle and bustle of Hwy 16. So as we move around this morning our view is slightly different from yesterday’s as we now face north up the valley instead of west towards the blue ridge. Also, the stream of what I can only imagine as being Sunday morning church traffic is slighty quiter now, leaving us with only the sounds of the bees tending the newly blossomed almond trees and the distant screech of an occasional red-tail.
Since moving out here, just over two weeks ago, I’ve had various conversations with people who can’t seem to understand why we would want to move out so far from town. Just yesterday we were at the recycling centre and I was chatting with an Irish guy (proper Irish, with the diddly-dee and all) about the rugby, and I mentioned that we lived in the Capay Valley. He looked as if I just told him we lived in Timbuktu. It’s only half an hour outside Woodland (about 5 more minutes commute than from Davis) but it is apparently a whole other world away from the tract housing estates and shopping centres of Woodland. I had a similar conversation with a lady at work last week. She sympathetically asked me why we had moved out here, as if I’d just given both legs away to science and not even been offered a bus ticket home.
Given all these shocked reactions to our recent relocation and future ventures in agriculture it only recently occured to me that it might be slightly out of the ordinary, and only a little bit crazy. To add to this, our endevours somehow warranted a story in a fairly well-circulated agriculture newspaper, which points at the fact that even within the ag community we are something of a novelty, in that we are young and apparently foolish enough to take this on of our own free will.
Before we found this place and were scouring the countryside for possible matches for our business goals and living requirements, it never once occured to me that we were members of a very exclusive club, that we might, in fact, be the only (almost) newly-weds out there looking to live in the middle of nowhere and not in a single-family lego house in somewhere called Oak Lake Willow Forest Vista Acres. I was convinced that if we didn’t move fast all the good places with all the good soil and all the water would be gone, snapped up by other farmers eager to jump on the sustainable and local food bandwagon. It is only now that we are secure in our lease, and with our trailer in place, that the reactions of others have allowed me to see that we are very much in the minority and there is no race for the rural life, no sprint for a piece of the farming pie. The farming community is getting physically older and is growing steadily further from the concious of those in our cities and towns making it a more abstract and distant concept than ever before. It’s no wonder then that when we mention our plans to even our ‘progressive’ friends they return our looks of excitement with those of amazement and even disbelief.
More fool them. As we sit at the table with our door open to the elements, eating breakfast and listening to Johnny Cash and the sounds of a Sunday morning almond orchard, the question isn’t “why are we doing this?” it’s “why wouldn’t we do this?”