A stiff north wind came up the afternoon of October 8th, strong enough to be unsettling and drive me into the house. It pushed harder as night came on -- we could hear unidentified items scudding across the driveway and knocking against the house, punctuations to a constant roar and the trembling of the house itself. Looking out the window at 12:30am, I could see the veggie starts nursery in shambles, its shade roof and the roof supports gone, tables upturned -- but beyond that scene, about a mile away, the orange glow of a fire.
The fire looked to be about the size of a house. Potter Valley volunteer fire vehicles were already there, red lights flashing. As we watched, flames flew south, outdistancing any chance of containment within seconds. We heard later that the winds reached 70mph.
Our farm lies entirely in the flat bottomland of Potter Valley. The hay for the year was in the barn, and the field had been irrigated the week before, so the short green grass was moist. Similar hay fields lie on the north and south of ours, and most importantly on that night, on the west as well. Beyond the green fields, to the west, the dry brown hills rise up in folds and ridges of oak savannah. The wind came from the north and just a bit from the east, blowing the fire past us and up over the ridge into the next valley -- Redwood Valley.
While keeping eyes on the fire that night, we packed our bags and loaded the car for a quick get-away in case the wind shifted. I packed cash, computer, and sleeping bag, and then I looked in on the seeds, the only other items I considered taking.
I didn't pack up the seeds that night, and I didn't take them 2 days later when we evacuated. Now, coming back to an unharmed farm, seeing the seeds safe in their jars, and on drying racks, and wrapped in sheets waiting to be cleaned, in every room of the house as well as the barn and the basement, I'm more grateful than ever for the gift of these amazing food plants in their ever-adapting embryonic DNA packages, ready for another season.
We have lots of new varieties -- so far, Charlotte Chard, Mountain Honey Melon, and Crimson Sweet Watermelon are available, but more will be added as winter comes on. Including a dozen tomato varieties we just couldn't resist.
Here's to gratitude, and the new beginnings that are seeds.
On a lighter earlier note: back in September Open Circle Seeds had a booth at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa. I was interviewed there by Kaye Kittrell, for her Youtube Late Bloomer series. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21tX6UNQrjk