|Classic Organic Farm|
I wrote this a few nights ago and am just now having a chance to upload it.
It’s our fourth night on the road. Each night we’ve found a different place to park for the night. One of my goals is not to have to pay to park if we don’t have to. The first night it was pouring rain and cold, and we ended up pulling into a campground and paying $15. I’m sure we could have found a little pullout somewhere but it was late and we were tired so we decided to stop where we knew we could. The second night we parked on the street in a residential neighborhood in Ukiah. I knocked on the nearest door, smiled, and asked the homeowner if he minded if we occupied his curb for the night. It was no problem. Last night we were visiting friends in the Santa Cruz area and were able to park across from their house. Tonight we’re trying something new, something I’m really excited about.
|This was just before the nearly full moon rose above our trailer.|
Harvest Hosts is a program through which farms and vineyards offer free overnight parking to people in self contained RVs or travel trailers. We paid $30 for a year’s membership, which gives us access to a database of over 400 places throughout Canada, the US, and even a few in Baja, Mexico. I looked at the map and saw that there was a farm near where we wanted to stay tonight, called and asked if they had room for us, and then arrived before they closed. We made our way south today along the 101, over rolling hills, vineyards, sometimes catching glimpses of the sparkling sea. We commented often on the beautiful weather, windows rolled down, sun pouring in. We listened to kids fight over windows being up or down, “too windy”, one said, “too cold”, said another. It was a rough day, truth be told. There were some grumpy kids, some lost tempers, some unkind works spoken. I’m ashamed to say there even some unkind words hollered. (By me.) There were tears.
At the end of what felt like a long road, we pulled into Classic Organics Farm, our first Harvest Hosts stay. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but we were genuinely welcomed by Helmut, whose farm this is. He showed us where to park and invited us to explore the farm. We pulled into a grassy area and the kids immediately made friends with goats in the adjacent pen. Later on The Farmer’s Wife came and offered to show them the baby kids, who are kept inside so they don’t become coyote snacks. The farm is nestled amongst hills now brown and golden, dotted with large oaks. We watched as five deer wandered across the hillside. The moon rose in the east just as the sun sunk golden behind the hills to the west. Erik disappeared with his camera to capture the last of its light. The kids and I browsed the charming produce stand, neat baskets of fruits and veggies and herbs arranged on shelves, squashes and pumpkins in all their whimsical shapes and colors. Prices were clearly marked, yet there was no one there to enforce it, just a slot for money and a simple sign saying it was an honor system. There is a u-pick strawberry field, so we wandered through, savoring the sweetness of fresh berries (in October!), and filling our little cartons, then slipping our money in for someone to find.
Dinner has been made and eaten. (Bean soup with ham.) Dishes are washed. Kids are all tucked in and sleeping. A dog barks in the distance and moonlight on the hills. We are in a little corner of the world where hospitality is practiced, where trust and goodwill are offered. A farmer sows his seeds, waters his crops, gathers his harvest, and puts forth the fruit of his labor. He offers a place for tired travelers to park, a peaceful place, asking nothing in return. I am blessed. I am humbled, after so many moments of irritation on my part, of being oversensitive, of being unkind to those I love best. Yet here I receive grace and kindness from a perfect stranger, rest for my body, and peace for my weary soul.