I realized after I published my last post that I’d done it on the 30th anniversary of the Mt. St. Helens eruption, a big event here in Washington State. It seems like eons ago, but it’s still hard to believe it’s been 30 years. It didn’t affect us much here in the Seattle area, other than seeing the ash plume on the horizon for weeks (she belched ash regularly after the initial eruption). It was scary to watch on the news and see the rivers roiling with muddy, tree filled waters, the normally gradual snowmelt of spring concentrated into a churning, angry mash up of blasted rock, ash, and trees. Though she’s huffed and puffed a few times since, nothing has approached the devastation of that initial blast. We all still watch her though, and her sisters, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, both dormant…for now.
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and it’s been raining all weekend. The weatherman’s predicted sunshine never made it through the clouds, and aside from a half day break in the rain on Sunday, it’s pretty much been solid rain since Thursday afternoon. All this rain means the grass is growing and the pasture needs another cutting. A trip outside to feed and water the chickens requires waterproof footwear, and I’ve graduated to the Wellies now, as even the ankle high duck shoes were leaving the bottoms of my jeans soaked. The good news is it’s warmed up a bit, so it’s not quite so miserable as it was last week – cold AND wet, brrr. Today it’s warm, almost tropical, and with a rain slicker and waterproof pants, it’s a lovely day for a nice hike in the ubiquitous liquid sunshine of the Pacific Northwest. And the thing about the rain, is it decreases the human activity outside. This makes it quieter and tranquil, and the birdsong becomes the prevailing sound instead of motors.
If there’s one drawback on my little farm it’s the noise. I knew it when I purchased the home. I first viewed it in August on a beautiful sunny Saturday. After having looked for nearly two years, I was searching for the perfect place and not finding it. There was always something not quite “it” with the many places I viewed, whether a combination of small, but individually surmountable, drawbacks, or one or more “fatal flaws” (power transmission lines intersecting or adjacent to property, for instance), it seemed like I was finding something wrong with everything I looked at. I was beginning to think I was being too picky in a subconscious effort to avoid making a decision (yeh, lots of head games with myself).
On that sunny day I could hear the road noise and hesitated. The road in front of the house is somewhat busy, but the house is set back quite a ways from the road, with a wide copse of trees and underbrush running the length of the property. A half mile away is a state highway – two lanes from Monroe south to Fall City, then east to Redmond. It’s a beautiful stretch of highway, and a vital link through the valley farmlands. And of course there’s the accompanying road noise. Thankfully both the realtor and the good friend who’d come with me to view the home placated me with the fact that it wasn’t so bad, I’d get used to it, and suggested that I could put a fountain in the small pond out front. For what is road noise but white noise? If I lived next to the ocean it would be noisy 24/7. At least here the noise is nearly non-existant at night.
So it wasn’t a fatal flaw for purchasing the home when there was so much else that was just right, including the Bald eagle that circled overhead as we prepared to leave that day, but it’s still an irritant to me – I freely admit I’m a bit of a noise freak. Inside the home is fine and I hear very little, if any, road noise. But on sunny weekends, when I’m likely to be outside working, they come out in droves: those from the populated areas – Seattle and environs – coming out for various attractions – farmstands, fishing, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. And with these droves comes my biggest peeve, the touring packs of motorcycles. In twos and threes, fives and eights, even 20 or more (must have been a club gathering) on Harleys and crotch rockets, they blast down the highway, accelerating out of town with their abominable four stroke engines amplified with the BRAAAAAAAP of sound exaggerating pipes. I’m sure it’s a lovely way to travel on a beautiful warm day, but really, do you have to come out here to do it? I had a co-worker recently share, when she found out where I lived, how she and her hubby and their friends love to take their motorcycles out on the weekends and ride the roads in my area. I smiled politely through gritted teeth as she even described how her brother-in-law told them about this great loop to take – take this side road that veers off the highway just out of town and follow it out and around. She was, of course, describing the road I live on. Which would account for the repeated loops some of the packs make, two and three times past my house, sending the bird dog into a frenzy (he seems to dislike them – or something – as much as I detest them), as I snarl and gesture in frustration toward the offending noise. Oh well. I guess it’s the price we pay for the place being nearly perfect in every other way. And, to put a positive spin on it: road traffic means customers. When I get to the production stage of the farm, it will be nice to have a steady supply of potential customers for the little farm stand I can put out by the side of the road. In the meantime, I’m enjoying hearing the birds sing on this wet weekend.
Postscript: shortly after I originally posted this, the clouds parted and the sun came out. The hens all collapsed in an ecstacy of sunbathing and the last five hours of daylight were a glory of green jungle in the sun.