Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oregon in August: Farms and Family and Food

The Willamette Valley is bountiful this time of the year.  Much of the spring green has turned to harvest gold.  The corn is tall.  Grain and seed crops are ripening.  Berries are past their peak, but still available   Peaches are ready.  And the hop fields are a sight to behold.
My mom and dad both spent many days in the hop fields in the thirties and early forties.  The ropes the hops grow on would be let down and the pickers would pluck the hop cones from the vines into tall wooden-slat baskets.   

Hops are an important ingredient in beer making, and hop picking was one of the few ways to make any money back then.  Now, of course, the hops are picked by machine.
We had seen signs for Garden World, and since we had a few extra hours Saturday morning, we followed them to see what we could see.  Garden World is a large nursery dealing mostly in trees and shrubs.   
We have several gaps in hedges to fill this fall, and we liked the looks of this pee gee hydrangea.  We'll have to watch to see if they are reduced in price for fall clearance.

Back in Woodburn we had seen a sign for a Saturday market, so we returned after it opened at 10:00, because I was looking for some fruit to put together a fruit compote for the picnic later.

We found an antique car show, with the shiniest old cars you could ever see.
 Not all old things have been cosmetically enhanced.

 The August flowers in the market are just glorious!
And we did find fruit.  I bought a pint each of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries.  I took them back to Mom's little kitchen, washed them, put a touch of sugar on the blackberries, put them in the one bowl Mom had that was big enough, and chilled them until it was time to go to the picnic.  That was the one food item that was completely eaten up.
 We arrived early at Myron and Nancy Mohr's house because I couldn't put Mom off any longer.  She was so excited to go and didn't want to miss a minute of it!

This is the annual Mohr/Hofstetter Picnic, reuniting cousins and their descendants.  My Grandmother Hofstetter was adopted out before the age of two when her parents divorced.  Her brother Henry Mohr stayed with his mother.  We have a photo of the family before the breakup, standing in front of their Nebraska sod house.  My grandmother and her family came to Oregon and the two siblings lost touch until Henry located his sister Meta years later as an adult.

The Mohrs were caught up in the Dust Bowl and the Depression in Nebraska and in 1939, they came by car to Oregon to live with Meta, who was now married to Otto Hofstetter, my grandfather.  In fact my mother was 18 at the time and she and sister Alma were in the hop fields when the cousins arrived, five boys and a girl, along with their parents, suddenly descending upon them.  A very strong bond was formed that has lasted these many years.

Now we celebrate in bounty a connection that was formed in time of great need.
Mom and my sister Laurie check out all of the pot luck food, so Mom can have a plate prepared for her.
While we had visited outside earlier, by now the temperature was over ninety, and we were grateful for the in door, air conditioned dining.

 After the meal, Mom's cousin Julius...

 ...and her cousin Alvin told stories about the Dust Bowl days in Nebraska, and then the trip out to Oregon.
It's hard for Mom to hear, but she wants to know everything.  We try to help her "hear".
 And then we moved from talk of deprivation to this!  Dessert time!
We returned Mom to her apartment and headed for home in Seattle  about 6:00.

We look forward to returning to my homeland next month.


  1. Fabulous looking berries. I wanted to reach into my screen and eat them from their boxes.

  2. That produce from the farmers' market really grabbed my attention. Those berries are just luscious looking.

    I hope you took notes so you can write up the stories. They sound fascinating. All of my aunts and uncles, except for one, are now gone. Only my mother and my one aunt remain living. I miss those stories of the 20's, 30's and 40's.

  3. First of all, Linda. Your header is totally amazing!!! Wow! That caught my eye right away. I just loved this post. The warm and wonderful feeling of your family being together is so terrific. What a huge, happy family!

  4. I caught my breath upon seeing your header. Loved how you described Oregon, and now I can say it's my homeland too.

  5. Always enjoy the family gatherings to listen to stories of the old days. Great photos and the hops growing was interesting to me. I am reading a book where it tells of people in London traveling by train to the countryside where they would pick hops at harvest time.

  6. Oh, I do love your header, too! And what a delightful post for the day, Linda! Looks as though your family had such a wonderful gathering! Delightful photos that I'm sure will trigger many lovely memories in the months and years to come! Have a great week!


  7. Glad to see everybody had a great time. The food and the home looked terrific.

  8. what a fun reunion...I've met some new cousins over here and they speak english!


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