It seems that the days I leave the studio and drive out to Dundee for a cut, color and chat with my hairdresser/kind-of-niece always turn into something quite unexpected. Today was no exception. If you follow my blog, you know that the twenty mile journey wends its way through farmland, hazelnut orchards, nurseries, hops fields and pastures. Every time I drive past French Prairie Gardens and the glorious house that shares the property I always make a note to stop in on my way back. How many years have I driven right past “on the way back” and not stopped? Well, way too many to count. Today, I broke my pattern and pulled into the parking lot. Can we hear an “amen?”
The house, as you see in the pix above, is magnificent; in fact, it is the house that always grabs my attention – the garden/nursery part of the equation has always been a bit of an add-on. (See what I did there?). Back to the house – it is in impeccable condition…and huge; at least compared to most of the farmhouses in this part of the country. Lucky for me, when I walked into the side building that serves as a farm stand, Karren, one of the owners just happened to be in the kitchen baking pies, hustling to fill holiday orders. And, then more good fortune, I happened to be the only one in the store at the time…I doubt that on a Wednesday afternoon there is much tourist trade out that way…so I was able to chat with Karren and learn a bit more than expected about the house and the farm.
Turns out the house is the original structure – built in 1895! It was a stage stop way back when, which explains its overall size and the unique design. In addition, the owner shared a bit of history that included tales of Captain EJ Harding, horses being traded and one thousand acres of land. My knowledge of Oregon history is pretty limited – picking up bits and bobs here and there as I roll along – but doing a bit of research (aka googling) from what I see Captain Harding did play a significant role in the history of this part of the Pacific Northwest known as the French Prairie. I’ll ask my sister-in-law – history buff that she is, I’m guessing she can probably ramble on about it in some detail – I’m willing to bet that she knows the name of all his kids!
Karren was gracious enough to let me snap some pix of the house and the store to share with you. The store originally started as a self-serve produce stand! It all looks so inviting – especially this time of year with wreaths and garlands draped here and there. The store is only open until December 13th and bursting at the seams with an unusual variety of locally made jams, jellies, dressings, sauces, even pickled garlic. The decorative antique cabinets and shelves make it look and feel so cozy – I could have been walking into my pantry to make a selection for dinner that night! (In my dreams, right?) I will definitely make a trip back to taste and shop for gifts before they close for the season; but I couldn’t leave empty-handed. So today I came home with freshly picked crunchy apples, a gallon of apple cider and a bag of apple cider donuts right out of the bakery! And, if that isn’t enough, as I checked out I learned what a growler is! Do you know? If you’re interested in learning more about the property and all it has to offer you can visit their site at www.FPGardens.com. They have lots of seasonal events and they also host weddings and special parties. Wouldn’t it be a lovely place for an evening fete of some sort?
Some days I wake up and wonder how I came to live in this place right on the heels of my ten years in New York City. Talk about polar opposites. While I still don’t know the answer to that question; I do know that it is what it is. And, always when I get just a mile or so away from home, I marvel at all the open space and the beauty of it all. So, I guess it doesn’t really matter why I am here – what really matters is that, in this moment, I am happy I am here.
P.S. Yes, I broke my "no eating in the car" rule! So, which do you think I choose to snack on in the Jeep the last few miles of my journey? If you guessed apples, you would be wrong!