People of the Hills

February 15th, 2017

I have always been draw to the hills, whether ancient geological features such as the Occooh Mountains of Southwest Wisconsin or the Rocky Mountains out west.  I love the twisting roads, the hidden valleys the mystery around the next corner.  There has been times in my life when I have lived in flat country but I found myself missing something.  It wasn’t a clear emotion, more like a back of the mind something isn’t quiet right sort of feeling.  It wasn’t till a little later in life when I feel like I figured it out.  Hill, valleys, topography, this is where I find my heart drawn.  It’s funny because I have talked to people who grew up on the plains and they have the same feeling of
place in flatter areas.  One of the aspects of hilly topography I marvel at is all the different microclimates created by the changes in elevation.  Yesterday we received our first light dusting of snow on the farm but when I drove down into the valley it was all rain.  Just that small amount of elevation was enough.  On Friday evenings I play croquet with a group of friends.  Our court is nessled in a tight valley, if conditions are right you can feel a stream of cold are moving down hill and often at a certain time of day a fog will begin to form below us as the colder air moves over the warmer ground.  When the games are over and I return to my ridgetop perch I often find the air a couple degrees
warmer.  The first and last frosts of the year happen in our valleys before we see anything on the ridge.  The first year I gardened on a professional level I was working for a farm nessled in one of the bigger valleys created by the Kickapoo river.  We often had to pick hundreds of pounds of salad greens in a day by hand.  By the end of the year I was so tired of picking salad greens I rejoiced upon seeing that frost valley as I drove into work.  It was short lived joy though as I learned it wasn’t cold enough to kill or even damage the greens.  It was my first lesson in hardy vegetable production.  Whether it’s a ridge top view or getting lost in a valley I will always find my soul in the hills.