It’s time once again for Sequim’s annual Lavender Festival. It is only now that the statute of limitations thing wore off that I am free to write about my own humiliating experiences as a lavender farmer in the latter years of the last century in an unpublished published memoir entitled,
“Lavender Tour of the Doomed.”
This is a lavender scented nightmare of treachery, greed and deceit amidst a post-agricultural landscape of retirement homes, box stores and strip malls we like to call Sequim.
Where a small but determined group of lavender farmers tried to keep one small section of our farming heritage unpaved for future generations to enjoy while creating the biggest traffic jam to ever hit the North Olympic Peninsula. Where thousands of lost tourists circle endlessly in a lavender induced fog, competing for parking spaces with the locals who liked to drive around with little dogs in their laps and cause the rest of us to ask, won’t you please, let the dogs drive.
I guess I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out as a lavender farmer. For one thing I never should have said I was a lavender farmer. I only had one plant. It was a very old lavender plant but that did not give me an excuse to say I had the oldest lavender farm in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
I was a journalist on assignment trying to do my duty to strip the dirty linen from the seamy underbelly of the lavender growing cabal. Lavender is a short little plant you have to bend over to plant, weed or pick. All those pictures of smiling lavender farmers are have one thing in common. They are not smiling. That is the unmistakable grimace of lower back pain from bending over to pick lavender.
I’ll never forget the year I threw my back out picking the very first lavender blossom of the season. It was just my luck it happened right before the Lavender Festival. I had a lot of chores to finish on my lavender farm before the lavender tour began. I was going to go to the dump. I was going to turn my fleet of wrecked boats into attractively elegant yet inexpensive lavender planters. Then things started to go terribly wrong. When my Lavender Recipe Cookbook that included hundreds of trendy lavender dishes from Lavender Clam Dip to Lavender Cured Salmon Caviar came back from the publisher, printed in Esperanto.
Then, right at the last minute when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, tragedy struck. There was an accident. My lavender farm, the oldest lavender farm in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley was plowed into the swamp by a passing elk herd just before the lavender worshipping hordes were about to descend.
What could I do? What would you do? I went to the hardware store and bought every blue plastic tarp I could find before someone else did and beat it back to the farm. I ran around like a hyperactive Martha Stewart covering woodpiles, wrecked boats and weed-choked ground with perky blue plastic tarps hoping it might all look like a field of lavender from a distance to the farm visitors, after the refreshments hit.
I thought a couple of shots of lavender moonshine would grease the skids on any lavender farm tour. Little suspecting a nosey pack of revenuers would find my lavender scented distillery out in the woods and cut it up for scrap, sabotaging my celebration of all things lavender.