Roadtrip Vignettes, Part 11: Along I-82, Southern WA

We grow hops in our yard. We have Cascade in the backyard and Centennial in the front, and both varieties share a certain "ohmygod ohmygod the Sun water let's grow" enthusiasm for life. In June, before they flower, the vines will literally grow 6 inches in a day. (I've measured.) And the cones (the fruit of the plant) are so magnificent it's hard to believe they simply evolved. They're like something a sculptor would create.

Hops are magnificent plants and I love them.

And I feel that way even before we pick the cones and brew beer with them.

So when I was driving on I-82 through southern Washington west of Richland and I glanced off to the right and saw field after field of trellises, stretching as far as I could see, I had no doubt about what I was looking at. So that's what commercial hop farms look like, I said. They had that same essential "Hellooooo, World!" enthusiasm about growing, though here their rambunctiousness seemed tempered, perhaps by their relationship to commerce. "Sorry, no time for unruly fun and games," these plants said. "We're going to be dried, pelletized, tested for alpha and beta acids and put in precise quantities into beer." For our plants, beer is a hobby; for these plants it's a job.

But still, I couldn't not stop and get a picture. And I dedicate this piece to the hops of the world, who do such diligent work to make beer delicious.

Hops sexy hops
Hops sexy hops

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