Friday, October 16, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small - Apifera Farm

Just a short distance from urban Portland is one of the most beautiful rural areas I know. Yamhill county. A wine lover's dream full of scenic winding roads through rolling hills, and small hidden pockets of forest hiding burbling brooks and small rivers. Vineyards, lavender fields, woollies, horses, cows and chickens share this country with their lucky humans. Heaven on earth. And in a small corner, hidden just around a bend in the road, is Apifera Farm, where artist Katherine, and her husband, Martyn Dunn share their world with three small, but very wise donkeys.

Katherine is a well known artist of primitive and whimsical art which she creates from vignettes of her life at Apifera. An amazing life filled with creatures great and small - a one-eyed pug and a wild eyed chocolate lab. Naughty goats that flaunt their ability to escape through electrified fence, but who run for their pen when caught where they don't belong. Shy cats who run for the hills when they sight a human and old crusty cats that ignore you completely. Chickens chasing each other across the barnyard, as the horse waits patiently for a hug and a treat.

But best of all are Pino, Lucia and Paco whose sad eyes and patient demeanor make them look wise beyond their years. You can't help but reach to hug them as they nibble animal crackers from your fingertips. They're magical , those donkeys, and will teach you a thing or two about life if you listen carefully while you scratch behind their ears.

The garden is winding down for fall as the leaves yellow and fall. You can breath fall in the crisp air ripe with the smell of fallen leaves and wood smoke. The vegetables are in except for a lonely few tomatoes still nestled in the vines. The sunflower heads ready themselves to feed the birds this winter, sagging with the weight of their seeds. And the pumpkins glow orange in the gray misty air, lighting the nooks and crannies with the glow of an autumn sun.
The barn and outbuildings all bear the patina of time and service and have somehow set down roots and become part of the land. The colors of the patina rival that of paintings that artist do purposefully - the hand of nature on a timeworn palette.

Each time I visit this farm, I am reminded of the musical, Brigadoon, where once in a hundred years, a mortal could find and visit a magical town in the Scottish moors. When the day ended, the town disappeared again, but the memory of its beauty and charm were burned on your soul forever. As the day drew to a close, we said our goodbyes and exchanged promises of keeping in touch. The memories of my visit to Apifera will warm my heart through the winter and give me solace in my urban home that these magical places do truly exist.


Paula McNamee said...

What a beautiful place- Your story makes me want to visit the farm and go for a ride in the country.

Apifera Farm said...

OK, The last paragraph, coupled with one of my favorite Leaonard Cohen songs, has me in tears.

Just simply a beautiful post. The comparison to Brigadoon, well, it fits perfectly for me too, I just wake up each day and it starts all over. Thank you for coming and visiting us- You missed Lucia losing a front tooth by a few days - worth another trip sometime for pictures!
Your fans and friends at Apifera.

Tory Brokenshire said...

Jan I can't decide what is better your photography or your writing. And the mention of Brigadoon one of my favorite storys- yes I can see that in your telling.

Mrs. Sew and Sew - Karen said...

I am so envious of your visit to Apirera Farm! I love Katherine's art work. I hope to visit some day. I am so glad to have found your blog through Apifera Farm. Have a great weekend! Karen