My friend Karen in Alaska asked me what happened to "Frog Hospital" because she hasn't received one in more than a month.
I told her that I wrote the Frog Hospital newsletter for ten years and then wrote a book with the same title and I guess I am finished with that name and that concept.
So I came up with this very plain alternative -- "farm news" -- because that's where I have been this past month -- working at Hedlin's Farm on the edge of LaConner.
Specifically, I am working at Hedlin's Family Farm Stand selling premium organic vegetables to friends and strangers alike.
This takes up all my time. I can't complain. The farmer hasn't had a day off since April, but he lets me go home once in a while -- like today, for instance, Sunday morning, I'm sitting around the house drinking coffee.
Since this is the farm news, let's start with the weather -- awful, nothing but rain and overcast for several weeks now, which is bad for the sweet corn but good for the crucifers (cabbages and their relatives)
You can't grow sweet corn without heat and sunshine to make those ears pop out. Customers drive up to the farm stand, get out of the car, trudge across the sawdust to the little shed where I stand behind the cash register and ask me plaintively, "Is there any sweet corn?"
No, I tell them, and how many ways can I say that. "No sweet corn today, but we might have some in a few days. We have corn trying to grow out there, but all we can do is hope for it.
"How about some broccoli? We got boucoup broccoli. Heaps of it, luscious and green. The broccoli thrives in this wet weather."
But they want sweet corn, and they trudge back to their cars with their heads hung down.
I want to sing out, "We have cabbages too. Ten pounders. Solid and crisp. You could make enough cole slaw for your entire Bridge Club."
But they leave, heading down the road to some other farm stand, which might have sweet corn. I don't blame them if they want to keep looking, because they get this idea that it's late August and early September and you're supposed to have sweet corn.
But not this year, not in any abundance....
With the rain, as a way to be happy, flowers sales are strong. We are selling bouquets as fast as we can make them. I am learning to love dahlias. They are just astounding -- ranging from light lemon colors all the way to red darker than a bull fight in medieval Spain.
I can pick the zinnias and yarrows when the stand is not busy. These annuals grow right near the stand, so if I hear the crunch of the gravel, meaning a car is here, then I can get back to the stand and wait on the people.
But the dahlias are too far out in the field. I never go there, except last week, I asked Mary if she could cover for me to give me a chance to walk out to the dahlias and see them all. It was wonderful.
Anyway, I need to talk with the boss about this -- I can't hype the farm stand without coordinating with him, and her, and her -- it's a family farm -- so I will stop for now.
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This book is a treasure that will still be worth reading ten years from now.
Send a check for $25 to Fred Owens, Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to the Frog Hospital blog and pay with PayPal.