Speeding Up to Slow Down

On Saturday night, Jesse turned to me at dinner and said, “When we have such full busy weekends like this, it seems like they stretch on forever.” At the time, I disagreed: “No–being so busy makes them go by more quickly!” And then yesterday, as I rolled up to Home Depot for the second time in as many hours, I totally understood what he meant.

We somehow managed to fit all of the following in our weekend: a Saturday Market trip, a graduation dinner celebration, two runs, a trip to the farmer’s market, coffee with friends, the complete start-to-finish construction of a fire pit and herb garden with retaining wall, and a successful Mother’s Day grill-out at said fire pit. We squeezed, like, four days into two.

Aside from the excitement of reconnecting with old friends (which tops just about everything, in my book), the highlight here was the fire pit. I will attempt humility as I take credit for the idea; my future dad-in-law was telling me about the ill-fated koi pond our neighbors began to dig a few weeks ago without first checking on the locations of the gas lines and I thought, “We can dig, too!” Seriously. A koi pond? And the idea for a fire pit in the back pasture was born.

After a fair amount of research and thought, Jesse decided that Mother’s Day was the day. With a little planning and the help of his sister, we knew we could get the fire pit finished in an afternoon while Cheryl was off at a dog show. And then we decided to go for broke and plant an herb garden AND plan to make dinner on the fire pit that night. With no contingency plan in place, I might add.

We followed the guidelines put forth here and here on how to create a relatively permanent and safe structure. First, chose the flattest spot we could find and marked out our 5′ diameter circle (with wheat flour–because I’m not going to be using it for anything else!).

Then we dug about 12″ down and spread river rocks along the bottom for drainage. And then Jesse with his beefy shoulders moved ALL 30 CINDER BLOCKS HIMSELF.

While Jesse moved literally 3,000 pounds of stone, Sandra and I set to planting the anti-mosquito lavender, sweet basil, Greek oregano, culantro, and German thyme. In digging the fire pit, we had created a giant pile of dirt and sod that threatened to slide down upon our new botanical babies… and Sandra had a solution.

Fire pit, herb garden, and citronella oil tiki torches in place, we headed up to the house to prepare dinner. Cheryl had arrived and helped hold gates open for the Subaru as the car climbed back up the hill out of the pasture. We washed the dirt off our hands and before I knew it, we were back down in front of an excellent wood fire with

-skewered onions

-baby new potatoes with chipotle powder, dried apricots, and walnuts

-salmon fillets with coriander, cumin, turmeric, mayo (seriously!) and lemon

and wine and beer. And the future in-laws (“Until the wedding, I’m your ‘Mom Outlaw!”). And Jesse. And Sandra.

And then, after a day of full sun, it began to rain. Being the undaunted Portlanders we are (and are becoming), we moved to the protection of the trees a few yards away and toasted our mothers as our food cooked over the wood fire.

As we sat under the trees, eating our salmon and listening to the rain, our full weekend began to slow down. Sandra got excited: “And now that you’re here, we can do THIS and THIS and THIS and we’ll have so much FUN!!!” And it hit me. We are doing THIS and THIS and THIS and having so much fun. We’ve made it.

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4 responses to “Speeding Up to Slow Down

  1. God that dirt is beautiful! All the things you will grow…….

  2. That is awesome! I’m looking for that feeling. You’re lucky to have found it. Awesome fire pit, dude.

  3. Awesome! I’ve been cooking from Francis Mallman’s “Seven Fires” book – all over an open, outdoor fire. You should check it out!

  4. I can’t get Oregon off my mind! While I was out covering up my plants just now (because of the snow we are set to receive tonight) I was thinking about sweet it would be to grow peas in OR. Don’t know how crazy you are about your green thumbery, but I bet you could get a sweet patch of peas to produce you gobs in a month or two. Cool season crop, lots of shade provided by the lush foliage = peeeeeaaaaaassssss!

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