It took me a little longer than I expected to make it back to the farm. And, as you can imagine, there was a little part of me saying, You know, you don’t really have to go back yet – nobody there really needs you. I know, I know. But some other part of me knew that this escape, this running away from responsibility to indulge myself had really gone on long enough. Already, those last few days on the road had begun to have tinges, moments in which the adventure had taken on the first hints of curdling. Of turning that corner and coming face to face with the realization that it had gone on a bit too long. Only moments, mind you, but as with all parties, it’s better to leave too early rather than too late.
But homecomings have their own perils. I remember the first time I went back to California and realized that I was done with it, that the romance of the place had left me. What with all the struggles of managing the farm, I think it was reasonable to fear that coming down that lane that had instantly smitten me six years ago, I would feel only the urge to turn around and head straight back down to the airport.
But you know, it was good to be back. And it helped that Port Townsend kindly arranged to schedule its own approximation of Beltane – the Rhody Festival – to celebrate my return. The story is that the Rhody Festival got its start in 1935 as a way to lure some press to the area with a puff story for “theater short reels.” Votes for a Rhody Royalty were made by shopping at local merchants – each dollar spent gave you another vote, and Myrtle Olsen came out as queen. With a break for WW2 and another for COVID, it’s been going ever since.
The Rhody Festival is… well, if you wanted a small town Fourth of July in the middle of May, and mixed it with PT’s unofficial motto of “We’re all here because we’re not all there,” you’d get pretty much what we’ve got here: jugglers, hodgepodge brass ensembles and fire trucks. Rhody Queens and Strawberry Princesses. High school marching bands, and dancing chickens. Mix in Saturday Market (one of my “happy places”), and the post-parade Cake Picnic, and you’ve got Port Townsend in a nuthouse. I mean, nutshell.
The town still has its housing crisis, and looming gentrification disaster, and messy local politics and loss of farmland. And the farm, well, the farm has its own problems. But for today, the sky has opened up blue, the mostly-in-time, mostly-in-tune music is parading down Lawrence Ave, and it’s good to be back home.