Life in Utah has been both a whirlwind && an adventure: planting our first garden, turning our new place into a home, and hiking every chance we can get. I find myself giggling or bouncing up && down with a goofy grin plastered on my face countless times a day. The active lifestyle and strong local food movement in Salt Lake both excites and challenges me to live a more sustainable and healthy life. Although I do find myself in constant awe && intimidation of the physical abilities of fellow Utahns, (yes, that is the word!) the desire for the outdoors is infectious and palpable. We have made various hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon and are amazed and awestruck around every turn. The mountains are vibrant green, with touches of snow cap still at this time of year, and are brimming with wildlife: moose, jackrabbits, porcupines, and deer.
For our intern retreat, we camped in Zion National Park for three days. The red rocks and canyons are beautiful and the power of water is ever present. We enjoyed hiking the Narrows, as well as Angel’s Landing (though Whit && I chose to bypass the last of the chain climbing & leave the landing to the angels). I feel that I’m reforming roots and connections with nature that I have been neglecting for years. Camping && star-gazing truly rejuvenates my soul.
Another aspect of Salt Lake that we dived right into is the local movement. Between eating at only local restaurants, or shopping at local stores, we have embraced the “back at home” movement. We successfully bought all of our groceries at the Farmer’s Market, which just delighted us! This week’s finds included all organic produce: mustard greens, kale, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, potatoes, leeks, sprouts, a growler of ginger beer, & of course, a cupcake to fuel our shopping. We also discovered an organic liquid fertilizer that a few of the local farmers swear by, so we will see if our baby plants love it!
With all of this delicious produce, we have been cooking more & enjoying eating with the seasons.
We started making our own almond milk. Soak 1 cup of almonds for 2 days, drain & rinse, then blend with 3 cups of water. Strain with a cheesecloth & add vanilla, cinnamon, & agave. Toast almond meal left from the straining at 200 degrees with the oven door open to release moisture, for about 2 hours. And voila! I make almond meal chocolate chip pancakes with the leftover meal. I’m going to try to make chocolate almond milk, by adding cocoa, to this next batch. Hopefully it works!
Sandwich of the day: Local handmade 7-grain bread with our homemade hummus, cucumbers, mustard greens, && sprouts. Whit also made a delicious & hearty potato & leek soup for dinner.
Our latest obsession is the patio garden. We bought wooden raised beds & filled them with organic soil & compost. We also bought organic blood meal as fertilizer. Because our porch faces north, Whit built PVC stands to hold the growing lights that we turn on during the day. We already have two baby strawberries & three baby squash. We have two mini composting cans to add to the soil as the organic matter degrades. This is our first step to the years long project of homesteading that we have been dreaming of for ages!
This week marks a huge turning point in our lives with the start of residency. I know that free time for hiking, cooking, & gardening will be slim. I am trying to avoid foreboding joy with the imminence of work by remaining steadfast in my gratefulness for the last few months. Fourth year was busier & more stressful than I anticipated, but it also provided the time to develop the unique aspects of myself & my hobbies. It fostered learning in many, many topics with more time for reading & taking classes for fun, it allowed me to travel, && it gave me an opportunity to invest time in my partner and our relationship. As this incredible && life-changing time is creeping to a close, I feel unbelievably blessed with a touch of bittersweet.