From the Market — Fall fun on the Harbors


Cranberries, Wool, Razor Clams, Salmon Fishing, and Hunting Season — gee, could we have packed just a few more events into the coming weekend? Just in case you were still under the foolish impression that weekends are meant for sleeping in late and staying in your jammies all day, here I am to shatter that illusion. In order to fit in even a portion of what you’ll be wanting to do, I suggest making a timetable. Even so, I doubt that you can fit it all in. My husband informs me many months in advance of the date for Opening Day of modern firearm deer hunting season. The date carries the same weight as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. Oh wait — I meant to say Opening Day reigns supreme! Joe would happily postpone any other holiday, including his birthday, in favor of Opening Day. Since I have absolutely zero interest in this form of hunting, my weekend timetable looks very different from his.

My weekend begins on Friday, with the opening of the Schafer Meadows Fiber Arts Festival. The event takes place at the Grays Harbor Fairgrounds and runs from noon on Friday until 4pm on Sunday. Not continuously, of course. This is a wool and yarn lovers’ paradise. From wool carding, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, bookbinding, fly-tying, and even origami, the demonstrations continue all day. Check out the schedule of classes and demonstrations at http://fiberfest.wordpress.com/classes/ This is a place where I can do serious damage to the family finances — every booth has exquisite handcrafted items that call out my name. The tender downy softness of the un-spun wool, the vibrancy of the dyed wool yarn colors, the coziness of the knit scarves-my problem is that I come home with gorgeous items intended for gift giving and then have a really hard time parting with them.

The Cranberry Harvest Festival opens Saturday morning at 10am and closes at 4pm on Sunday. Cranberries love our climate and soil, flourishing here and in other very select areas around the country. Most people will never have the chance to learn more about cranberry cultivation, their only close encounter with a cranberry being the bag on the grocery store shelf or a can of sauce. Make time to sign up for a Bog Tour so that you can learn more about this native plant that has become a part of the American culture. You will impress and amaze your friends by becoming an expert about cranberries, and it’s fascinating stuff to learn. Naturally there will be fine food available, including from our own Nancy Lachel. She has found amazing ways to showcase cranberries in her cooking, examples of which have been personally tasted by me and marked with my seal of rapturous approval. I know — it’s a tough job. Somebody has to do it.

Several years ago we experienced an unusual October very much like the unexpected warm and dry that has been surprising us each day so far. At that time the fine weather held for several days of clam digging, which would be a bonus for the first of the Fall season tides that we have coming up. Believe it or not, we traipsed out to the surf in shorts that year! Sometimes I wonder if I only imagined that. But even more spectacular were the Northern Lights that pulsated along the horizon after sunset. It was a first for me, something I will never forget. It’s easy to get so caught up in the pursuit of the wily razor clam that the beauty of the surroundings fade from my attention, but even on the coldest, windiest, rainiest day of digging I always pause to turn and contemplate the beach as we leave. Razor Clams are only one of the gifts that we reap from the ocean, it seems fitting to take a moment to give it our respect and thanks.

The abundance of food that we are able to harvest is overwhelming. The rivers are open now for salmon fishing and fisherfolk are clogging the riverbanks and boat ramps. If you don’t fish yourself, I recommend that you make friends with someone who does. Salmon is a delicacy in any part of the world and here we have it swimming upstream in our own back yard. Yet another gift from the ocean.

Back at the market I can pick up a package of Anthony’s Smoked Salmon, a handful of cranberry cookies, scoop fresh picked cranberries out of the bin, and head home to a dinner of either line caught salmon or deer steak. Life on Grays Harbor, a gastronomic delight!

Barbara Bennett Parsons is the manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market in Hoquiam. Open 7 days a week. 538-9747