Posts Tagged ‘dairy’
Posted on June 24, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 20: June 23, 2010
Huntsville, Utah to Newton, Utah
I chose to traverse the Liberty to Avon/Paradise “old road,” rather than descending to North Ogden, then reclimbing into the Logan Valley. The old road was five hard, dusty miles of loose rock and steep switchbacks. It’s the first time I’ve pushed my bike because I had to, especially on dusty switch backs, the trailer and bike would gang up to drag me into the pit. I got a trailer flat. I was a sweaty mess at the top, but the successful crossing – which essentially ducked behind both Wolf Creek Ski Area and Powder Mountain – has earned me the respect of every direction giver out here: “Oh, if you did that, this short cut will be no problem.”
The pass was resplendent with balsam arrowleaf flowers, and the gravel descent no problem if I kept it slow. After about 15 miles of that – 30 or so on the day – I hit pavement and proceeded through increasingly bigger towns until I got to Logan. No one smiles in Logan. I hurried through and overshot my mark to some degree, realizing I needed to work my way west in order to get across I-15. I started doing that on side roads, but ultimately found myself nearing dusk, uncertain which way to turn. I knocked on the nearest door and, after a moment’s hesitation, found kindness, and a place to pitch my tent for the night.
In the corner of a kitchen whiteboard crowded with family phone numbers and reminders, Natalie Larsen keeps track of a few extra observations in her life: Space shuttle and space station together. 3.5 earthquake. Venus, Saturn and Jupiter aligned. Without missing a beat, the dairy farmer’s wife and mother of five, makes room for a stranger at her counter, offers up dinner, slips three loaves of bread into the oven, and keeps the two middle children easily included in the conversation. Her universe is her nuclear family, yet her head sneaks off to the stars from time to time.
“I keep meaning to write them into a notebook,” Natalie said, nodding to her whiteboard notations of cosmic observations.
A border collie named either Nana or Bandit (leaving her open to Banana jokes, but the punchline is unclear,) had barked her warning, then slunk back under a bush when I knocked on the storm door. Jamie had given me a quick second look to see if I was a nut when I asked if her mom was home. But after Natalie said it was OK to pitch my tent anywhere it would fit, and then came out to ask me in for scones, well, Jamie and her older brother Nathan peppered me with some of the best questions I’ve been asked all trip.
We exchanged stories about places, and the reasons we go there – Did you know there is next to nothing on the west side of the Great Salt Lake? Nathan’s been there to buy tractor, and says it’s so. He’s also taken a back way into Old Faithful on a trip he earned by being an outstanding student. Jamie wondered if I got tired or scared, if I was married, and why I was taking my trip. The scones were a sweet fry bread with honey butter, a warm end to my sticky day. I am shy and feel awkward about barging in on people’s lives, a stranger showing up at the door. But Natalie and the kids let me in, and that was special.
I slept soundly out by a sad cow who clanked and lowed to be with the others. I was awakened by a powerful and familiar smell. Skunk! So powerful it seemed as though Emma had gotten stunk and come into the tent. The air cleared. Natalie’s husband came home late and left to milk at 4:30, returning at 7 in time to set me straight on where I was going. (The Long Divide, a winding gravel climb up and over a stout hill separating the Logan Valley from the I-15 corridor proved to be another shortcut that has raised eyebrows all day.) I’ve wondered all day if he gets to take a nap before milking again at 4. I hope so.
Nathan told me there used to be 15 dairies in the Newton area. Now there are five. When I woke up at dawn I could see the gregarious ninth grader shifting irrigation pipe up on the hill. Helping his dad, uncle and grandfather is his summer job. Big dairy consolidation has coupled with the bizarre tendency of milk prices to stay the same even as the cost of everything else soars, to make it hard to stay in the business. But dairy is what this family does, like meeting a stranger’s request for help with an extra serving of kindness.