Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BARNS - Just off the Road

Barns are personal.  Rather like people in some ways.  Having grown up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, I can relate.  Our barn was strong and sturdy, well-maintained, and painted an unassuming barn-red.  When I think of it, that barn was a great representation of the man who owned it, my dad.

As I drive around our new home in Sequim, WA, I see a wide variety of barns and it makes me wonder about the people they represent.  Just down the road from our house is a particularly dilapidated barn. 

 I can see the sky through the missing roof, the breeze blows through the walls, and there are weeds everywhere.  There’s also a No Trespassing sign posted, so we can’t walk near it.  Perhaps the owner was a private guy.  He might have enjoyed star-gazing, so the holes in the roof were purposeful.  Or maybe he just got tired, and chose not to farm anymore.  Either way, the barn is beautiful in its own way, and it must be full of wonderful stories.
Another barn is, how shall I say, meticulous!  It’s neat as a pin, landscaped, (who ever heard of a landscaped barn?) and appears to be without a single loose board.  It seems that this farmer might be gentlemanly, or perhaps he has a wife who loves to decorate.  I wonder if there’s anything in there that is barn-like, dirty, smelly, or maybe there are flower pots and seed packets.

BIG is the word for the next barn on my list.  When I was growing up, the size and appearance of a man’s barn said a lot about him as a farmer, a success, and an example.  If the adage that big is boss still holds true, this barn is truly the boss of barns in Clallam County.  Its owner must love to do things in an over-the-top way, or perhaps he just has a lot of cows to feed.  Maybe he collects tractors (Oh, what I’d give to drive a Farmall H again!).  At any rate, he’ll never have trouble finding his way home on a cloudy night.

There’s a structure on my list that barely qualifies as barn-like, but it’s lovingly tended and speaks volumes about its farmer.  Maybe this barn was built because someone had a dream when he was a little boy.  He played with toy farm sets, plowed imaginary fields, and just knew that someday he’d drive those huge machines down the road, feeling all grownup and important.  Dreams sometimes need downsizing, but this barn tells me that once dreamed, they can come true.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

LAVENDER - Just off the Road

When we first came to check out Sequim in February 2013, we noticed lots of round mounded plants – in people’s yards, along the road, in fields, as part of the scenery nearly everywhere.  We’d heard about the Lavender Festival here, and that lavender is a big deal, especially during the Lavender Festival in July each year.
 At the time, I wasn’t a big fan of lavender but as I visited some of the lavender stores in town, I started to gain an appreciation for this most beautiful and versatile of plants.  What really sold me was the lavender mocha I tried at a local coffee shop.

As we went house shopping, I determined that I really couldn’t buy a house unless it had lavender in the yard.  We succeeded, and we’ve been admiring the lavender this summer in a new and artful way.  We’ve even purchased a microwave lavender distiller, so we’re making our own oils and bath bombs and other goodies. 
 Lavender is part of the culture in Sequim, and it’s easy to understand why.  We’re proud of being the lavender capital of America… and we smell better than anywhere.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

YARD STUFF - Just off the Road

Sequim has impressed me with the variety of its lawn ornaments.  Being from Alaska, my lawn ornaments were comprised of the occasional moose, grizzly, or black bear meandering through.  Here, although we see a black-tailed deer on occasion, the vast majority of gardeners seem to have developed a creative gene which includes the animals, birds, creatures and other treasures they proudly display in their yard.
Take my neighbor up the road.  When we first moved into this neighborhood, I kept looking at the statue in his yard – scarcely believing my eyes.  It couldn’t be… but after close scrutiny I realized that it was in fact a Velociraptor.  The fact that the word means “swift thief” did little to ease my concern.  It didn’t help when, at Halloween, the raptor could be seen with a pink flamingo in its mouth.  Oh well.

Boats are a part of the Sequim culture, but I was surprised to see so many boats on dry land... in people's yards.  Turns out they make great decorations, and often wonderful flower planters as well.
Some people near us love seagulls.  To me, they’re a sign of being near the ocean which is one of the reasons we moved here in the first place.  They’re beautiful as they soar, but not so much as they gather up road kill and other stuff that would pollute this beautiful place.  The yard I have in mind has a lovely statue of a seagull, wings spread wide.  It seems that the gull is a decoy of sorts, as I often see the real thing standing near the not-so-real one, wondering, I think, why his buddy doesn’t want to go flying.
Wood carving must be a hobby for another landscaper.  He’s got eagles, bears, unnamed creatures, and all sorts of carved critters lining his yard.  They are good likenesses and demonstrate that, at its best, decorating can be eclectic and work!
The farmer’s daughter in me has mixed emotions about the vintage manure spreader in my daughter’s yard.  She inherited it from the former owners, and has planted flowers all around it to “pretty it up.”  Oh well!
One of my favorites is the metal sculpture goat I found.  It’s nearly life-size, and from the top of its rock, it presides over all it surveys.

I’ve been looking for a creature to adorn my small front yard.  Being a former Alaskan, I’ve thought a moose might work, or perhaps a caribou.  Hard to find those around here.  So far, I’ve come up with a small metal-work flower.  It’s just so hard to decide, but I’m on a mission.  I really don’t want to be the only one without yard stuff in my yard.