This picture is of some of the produce from my garden this year. This was my very first garden, and although it was a lot of work in the beginning, now I feel like my vegetable cup is overflowing :) I worried about a month and a half ago whether or not my tomato and bell pepper plants were going to do anything...if only I knew what was in store! Two of the tomato plants I bought were an orange/yellow variety...some of these here I pulled off the plant so that they could ripen in the sunshine on our kitchen counter while we eat the already-ripe ones. There are probably easily another 30 or so good-sized tomatoes outside in the garden that will hopefully ripen within the next few weeks (weather permitting). The bell peppers look like they may have gotten a little bit frozen...they're a little black on some edges...but I'll give those some more time.
This term I am taking Basic Horticulture and Landscape Construction Practices. Last night I helped build and pour a small concrete pad. This was done up until about 9:45 at night, without much direction, experience or know-how. I was amazed my group actually pulled through. So, I now know how to build a concrete slab, should any of you need any assistance with that :) In the weeks ahead we'll be building fences, retaining walls, working with pavers, and doing a bunch of other cool things (all outside, between the hours of 6 and 10 pm in Portland weather...). I also know how to drive and operate a tractor and I could (at least somewhat) explain the intricacies of a chainsaw (I'm still scared to operate the damn thing, although I have cut off a few pieces of log with one so far :) My horticulture class is reminding me of my AP Biology course I took my senior year in high school. Mitochondria...cytoplasm...lateral meristem...chlorophyll....sound familiar?
The first few weeks of school were frustrating - we plunged into tractor parts and were left to our own devices in figuring out how to use the microscope and prepare slides...it's not that any of these things are hard in an of themselves...they're just hard when they seem so foreign. I wanted guidance. I wanted the instructor to explain everything before we plunged into it. But that's not always the best way to learn, I suppose. The best way to learn many of these things, unfortunately for me, is to just do them. Do them, look like an idiot, struggle, fail, and then do them again. I don't even understand how cars work, let alone tractors. I spent almost two hours last weekend trying to figure out what the hell hydrostatic transmission is and what difference that makes in operating a tractor that has that kind of gear system. This is so totally different than my experience at Whitworth as an undergraduate student. I'm hanging out with hard-core gardeners and construction buffs. And I like it, for the most part :)
Life update: I have decided to continue taking classes at PCC in the landscape technology program. Reason: It is relatively cheap and is the only way to gain experience and knowledge in the field without actually having a job in it. And hopefully...soon...I actually will get a job in this field. This weekend is Portland Nursery's annual Apple Tasting Event. I came last year by myself and was in heaven, walking through all the aisles of cool plants, listening to live Cuban music, eating apples, popcorn, cider, strudel and ice cream, and, best of all, being in one of the happiest places in Portland on one of the happiest days of the year (Portland is beautiful in the fall). The place is swarming with joyful, playful people. This year I'll be working at the event both weekends, starting this Friday. I'll be weighing and cutting apples, as well as serving popcorn. It's going to be the best thing EVER. A combination of almost everything I LOVE in life.
The bad news is that in order to work at this fantastic event, I will be missing out on my dear, dear friend Elizabeth's wedding in Albuquerque. I am sooo sooo sad about this. But Elizabeth, if you are reading this, I promise I will make it down there sometime! I am dying for a New Mexico sunset, and I'm only 25 - that means there are many years (Lord willing) ahead to take vacations into the heart of all things Southwest: succulent plants, Spanish-style architecture, exquisite sunsets, and sunshine!!!
I'm excited about this fall: the weather, my new classes, working at the nursery for a few days, and, something else to look forward to: for Thanksgiving, I'll be visiting the Benhameen in California, which will be awesome. And THEN, a few weeks after that, we will be living in the SAME CITY!!! Mid-December, after a year and a half of dating long-distance, we will both be Portland-dwellers. I can't wait. :oD