Summer has been anticipating the change of seasons and scenery since the last of the unpicked apples froze on the trees.
The creek in her backyard has now risen, a sign the snow is melting and spring has arrived. Yet the days remain unpredictable. Sunny one day. Snow the next.
The orchards that surround her home are still bare, the grape vines dormant, and the grain and hops fields unplanted.
Any week now she will see their awakening. After a long, snowy winter, this time of year excites Summer. Then again, anything outdoors motivates her. (She could easily spend a week in the wilderness on her own.)
Summer lives in rural Yakima, Washington, a region tucked away at the base of the Cascades. The Yakima Valley is known as the “Fruit Bowl of the Nation.” Pears, peaches and cherries are just some of the fruits grown there. Most of the hops grown in the U.S. come from the area, which is also a leading producer of wine grapes.
Have you heard of ice wine? I had no idea it existed until Summer sent me a picture of frozen grapes still on the vine about to be harvested. Or how about the miniature Rockit apple originally from New Zealand? I didn’t know we even grew something like that in the states.
Yakima, why haven’t I taken notice of you before?
Summer has lived in Yakima for almost her entire life and there’s no place she’d rather be. Maybe it’s the people that keep her in the area; the salt of the Earth kind of folk.
Or, perhaps, it’s her country lifestyle.
My nickname for her is Country Connoisseur. Her passion for all things outdoors has instilled in her an appreciation for farming and growing food that her suburban cousin from Southern California (that’s me) didn’t discover until later in life.
I haven’t seen Summer since childhood. She never leaves Yakima and I’ve never ventured that far north.
We’re overdue for a reunion … time to visit Yakima.