I’ve lived in the Portland area for 16 years, and let’s just say, I’ve grown accustomed to the conveniences of my suburban life. Within a five-mile radius of my home, you can find just about any type of food or store or service you desire. I can walk to a wi-fi coffee shop, a Subway, a Safeway, and a nail salon. I love that I am a short drive from movie theaters and museums and bookstores and bakeries. But sometimes, I crave wide-open, building-free spaces. Now and then, every city girl needs a trip to a farm.
Last week, along with my mother-in-law, Ann, and my 2-year-old son, Owen, I ventured out to Sauvie Island for a pleasant afternoon in a beautiful setting. It was peaceful. It was pretty. And, thanks to a rainy morning, it was really muddy.
Sauvie Island, located just a few miles northwest of Portland, is perhaps best known for Kruger’s Farm, home in the fall to a pumpkin patch that attracts hundreds of families and school kids.
While Kruger’s is packed in October, on a weekday in June there were no school busses in sight, nor any pumpkins. It is strawberry season, and fields of mounding berry-filled plants stretched out from the red barn and market for as far as you could see. You can pick your own berries or buy them already boxed in the market. With a toddler in tow, we skipped the picking but had a good time browsing in the market, where you can buy seasonal, farm fresh produce (lettuce, basil, rhubarb and much more) and other yummy items like honey, artisan cheese, and flavored popcorn. The farm has lots of outside picnic seating, a lovely gazebo and sometimes summer concerts.
After we put our strawberries and other produce back in the car, we walked around the property. We chased Owen through rows of blooming peonies. He climbed up and inside a large tractor tire placed in the grass for kiddos to play on. Then, we walked back to the barn, where a nice clerk in the market had told us we’d find Matilda The Pig and roaming chickens. We walked around to the entrance of the barn. There, in all her glory, was Miss Matilda. She certainly looks well fed, and according to Kruger’s website (www.krugersfarmmarket.com), she is also expecting. We shamelessly imitated Matilda’s snorts, trying to get Owen to do the same. On our way out of the barn, the chickens made an amusing appearance, zigzagging chaotically and pecking at the muddy ground.
We walked back to the car, letting Owen trudge through puddles in his rubber boots. The air smelled fresh, grassy but clean from the rain. As I picked Owen up and put him in his car seat, his boots left big mud marks on my pants. I looked down and noticed that my shoes were also a mess, and I didn’t even care. I had more important things to think about, like what to do with all those delicious berries.
### Erika is a writing mom. She lives in Milwaukie and teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland.