right now :: new friends

IMG_8041Meet Bill. The heron. Ira befriended “Bill” the first day of our vacation. My bird-sensitive little guy noticed this particular heron had some fishing line wrapped around his leg, and was limping a bit. I guess Ira felt like Bill might need some help rounding up his supper, so every single day that we have been here at the beach, Ira makes sure to leave a little snack for his feathered friend. In the evenings, Bill flies in to the fishing pier on the lagoon where we are staying. My boy leaves whatever he has available for Bill’s supper, be it bait fish or the heads and tails of fish that will make their way to my family’s supper plates. Bill seems appreciative, but sensibly skeptical of the humans that are leaving him treats. As my consciousness sometimes wavers about the necessity of feeding a wild bird, my heart feels warm when I see my boy and his choice of friends.IMG_8043 IMG_8045 IMG_8049 IMG_8057

adjusting our local radar

IMG_7953Over the weekend, our compass pointed south and brought us here, to the beach. Our annual trek to the salty waters of the Gulf is always a welcome treat for the family, giving us a brief change of scenery and some time to recharge our batteries before fully delving into harvesting the fall storage crops on the farm. It’s a hard time to leave the farm, to be sure, as we love the autumn so very much. But any time is a hard time to leave the farm for some reason or another, so we go when it feels best and enjoy every minute.IMG_7954As it goes when we travel anywhere, packing our own food to bring along is what we deem most important. (Of course we pack clothes, too, but that’s a no-brainer… a bathing suit and at least one article of clothing that isn’t sweat-stained and covered with streaks of tomato vine resin.) So we loaded up a cooler with milk and butter and hamburger and bacon, baskets of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic. And of course, some cast iron skillets. Eating road-food for any extended period of time is enough to give me serious anxiety, as I read the fine-print labels and wonder where in the world the ingredients come from and why on earth they are even considered food? Eeeeegads, we live in a strange time.IMG_7971{Supper last night… fresh salsa covered hamburgers on a bed of mashed potatoes with bits of bacon. Yum. We didn’t grow the tortilla chips, though.}

We stopped at a roadside stand for some local peaches as we neared the coast. The sweet old man at the stand had just harvested the peaches the day before and was ready to sell them all so that he could go fishing. We were happy to help him in his mission, so we added an entire box to the contents of the van and headed on our way.

And each year we make a little trade with Eric’s brother’s brother-in-law: some of our garlic for some of his beer. It’s a pretty sweet deal for us, especially since Eric’s brother brought the beer with him on his way down, putting it in the refrigerator so that it would be well chilled upon our arrival! Every beer I’ve tasted from Yellowhammer Brewery is a winner. If you find yourself in the Huntsville area, stop by the new biergarten for a taste. You won’t be disappointed. So as I sit with my toes in the sand, little people squealing in delight all around me, some knitting on my lap, and a locally-crafted cold one in my hand, I can sigh a real sigh of contentment.

Within a few hours of our arrival, Eric got a sourdough starter going to capture some of the wild ocean-air yeasts. Sourdough pancakes are on the menu for breakfast this morning… I wonder if we’ll be able to decipher any subtle taste nuances between our Bugtussle sourdough and the coastal version we got bubbling here. Topped with some of our own maple syrup, deliciousness is assured!

As you can imagine with my family, a trip to the beach also means saltwater fishing. Especially for my little angler, Ira. He’s obsessed with fishing as it is, but when there’s a whole slew of fish he’s never caught before… well, that’s pretty serious business. When the boy is ready to head out well before sunrise and without bothering to eat breakfast, you know he is fully in his element and loving it. His papa is pretty obsessed, too, so they make a fine fishing pair. And with Eric’s dad and brother here with us as well, there is quite a bit of Smith-family-fishing-energy floating around!!!IMG_7959{Eric’s first “sheepshead”. It was tasty, too…}

Arriving in any new locale, our internal weather-vanes have to readjust themselves as well. Yesterday on the beach, big storm clouds were brewing to the north across the lagoon, but the breeze was still southerly from the ocean. I tried to watch the clouds, but they seemed to be going in all directions, confusing my instincts a bit. However, seeing this black bank of clouds develop and intense lightning that went along with them, I quickly snapped out of my confusion and headed for shelter. What an intense storm!IMG_7961So even when we leave the comfort-zone of our home and farm, we do our part to adjust our local radars accordingly. Life is so much more interesting when you really dive into your surroundings!