Twenty-two miles from
Mount Hood’s snowy peak,
in an alpine river valley teeming
with birds and oscillating light,
lives a wild farm. Cows, chickens,
and pigs graze among vines and fungi and flowers proliferate as gardens merge with forest.
Upon this valley, the omnipotent mountain routinely asserts her mercurial hand. Frigid gusts challenge temperate drafts and clouds compete with sunbeams. Storms swirl, rainbows propagate, and the volcanic soil eternally churns. Reading between these celestial and terrestrial signs, humans gently steer the land — co-creators of a startling alchemy.
Near the pond, ducks fracture the air with their quacks and skids, while others silently roost on the shore. Parading their signature feathers and crests, the menagerie’s cultivated kin communicates the pool’s bounty to their wild brethren — whose arrival activates the primal instincts and undomesticated behaviors currently on display.
Between trunks and ruts, cows chomp grass while their horns commune with the cosmos. Simultaneously digesting earthly and otherworldly forces, the lumbering beasts illuminate unseen energies. Felled in the field with their kin as witness, they resume their spiritual lessons. Their horns, recycled as vessels, are packed with bovine manure, buried in autumn, and exhumed in spring, when the lunar cycle aligns with Earth signs. A mixture of harmony, anarchy, and water return the now-sweet humus to the land at twilight, with a descending moon. Uniting dew, stars, and soil, the ethereal potion captures and nourishes the universe’s boundless complexity.
In the cellar, grapes macerate. Their golden skins hold an inoculum of microbes and the liquid born of harvest in autumn’s torrid heat. Pressed and bucketed to barrel, a capricious fermentation arises within. Yeast and bacteria compete for the attention of concentrated sugars. Hydrogen ions swirl and swap states. Energy and uncertainty are generated in equal measure alongside fruit essences, obscure acids, unresolved complexities, and the potential for magic. For years, the wine remains opaque, cloudy, and mysterious. But left to mature of its own accord, it clarifies and harmonizes. A compelling paradox of flavors emerges, transforming uncertainty into profound, haunting pleasure.
At the top of the vineyard, a pungent stack of organic matter decays. Animal blood, bones, and skin are layered with kitchen scraps, pomace, and autumn leaves. Strategic stratums of straw, cardboard, and chicken droppings mingle. With time, the pile becomes crumbly, sweet-smelling soil — the perfect microbial snack. These tiny organisms transport the compost’s powers to the earth’s lower reaches, where it fertilizes dandelion roots. Sprouting upward, the medicinal flowers become grub for pigs, who fracture the land in their hunt. Humans drop seeds in their wake. And the cycle endures, as the pigs, once butchered, return their blood, bones, and skin to the pile on the hill.
Within a desolate field, a tall, russet stalk bends, its stark, spiky seedhead enduring the alpine wind until green, prickly spines signal their predecessor’s perennial victory.
As days elongate so do the teasel’s thorned, cupped leaves, which form minute insect pools. Purple blossoms invite bees and butterflies to perch on their petals. As the new growth flourishes, the older stem decays by its side. Falling to the ground, it joins a succession of chaos, commemorated by a statuesque relic of flowers and winged creatures that proudly crowns the season’s first snow.