We hold hostage Leela, a charming Australian with a broad set of skills - including of the culinary kind! She's here for a few weeks en route home from study in Brazil. She's helped to tame the grapes with pruners, assisted at the food bank, gleaned copious quantities of persimmons from a tree down the road, and today we'll make soil-blocks and start a round of seeds for the late winter/early spring garden.
Here she pretends to read while drowsing in the sun on a day that saw a record-setting high of 66 F. Yes, it's a heat wave, but the cold wave persists with night-time lows below freezing. And the drought. A couple of early fall storms yielded about 2.5" of rain - and there's been nothing since, compared to a "normal" of about three times that amount. Abnormal, of course, is the new normal, and if the dryness persists through the season it will become a major calamity, different in kind but not impact from the the extreme weather that 2011 saw across the globe.
I think that Leela feels at home here in part because it feels in some ways like her father's and stepmother's home and farm in Tasmania, blogged about here. For her release we hope to exact an invitation to visit. A trip to Australia is probably not in the cards for us, but an invite "in the bank" will help fuel our fantasies and warm our hearts on these cold winter nights!