Nicole Brodeur name-checks Stewardship Partners, Nora Ephron and Ted Kennedy Watson, and author Cheryl Strayed in her weekly column, Names in Bold.

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I was sitting on a hay bale on a flatbed being pulled by a tractor along a bumpy road in Carnation. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

Smart people over at Stewardship Partners: They held their annual “Feast on the Farm” fundraiser at Full Circle Farm for the third time Thursday night.

I can’t think of a better way to showcase their mission — to help private landowners preserve natural land in Washington state — than by hauling and feeding supporters right out in the fields to see it all for themselves.

“This is the breadbasket of Seattle,” said David Burger, executive director of Stewardship Partners, which has its hands in salmon preservation, riverbed reclamation and environmental protection of all kinds.

Full Circle founders Andrew Stout and Wendy Munroe met in college and married not just each other, but their beliefs in conservation, food grown in a way that protects habitat — and the circle of life that happens here.

“Nothing gets out of here alive,” said Andrew, who, by the way, has a thing for old tractors.

Which is to say, we ate it: beets, kale, wild salmon caught off the Washington coast; and Draper Valley chicken, all prepared by Chef Ethan Stowell. Everything, even the wine, was certified “salmon-safe” (that is, produced in a manner that won’t harm water quality or deplete habitat).

“We want this place to look like it does now for our grandchildren’s children,” founder Chris Bayley told the crowd, which included his daughter, Kate, and her husband, Tadd Sackville-West, who are expecting their second child.

Live music was donated by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Gary Westlake and rock-star redhead Kim Virant, whose set appropriately included Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.”

Like I said, I couldn’t stop smiling.

It’s the little things

The late Nora Ephron liked to tuck a little bit of Seattle into her birthday gifts to friends: a domino purchased from one of Ted Kennedy Watson’s two Seattle stores, Watson Kennedy.

The “Sleepless in Seattle” screenwriter, author and certified gem (who died June 26) would have an assistant call the store:

” ‘Nora is looking for a 6 and a 3,’ ” would be the task at hand,” Watson wrote on his blog, “and everyone working that day would begin the hunt through all the bowls we have set around.”

Watson was never really sure how Ephron used the bone or ivory dominoes (some 100 years old), “But my guess is that she gave them as a gift on a certain birthday,” he said. “A five and a zero for 50 … She was such a cool gal.”

Her toes, by the way, are fine

Fresh from being the first chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 — the literary equivalent of being knighted — best-selling author of “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed, stopped into the University Book Store to read from her new book, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.”

It’s a collection of her work from, which she began in March 2010 at the suggestion of author and then-Sugar, Steve Almond.

If “Wild” was, as she put it, “an effort to figure out my place in the world,” then Strayed’s role as Sugar is to help others find theirs — or their way back from a broken heart or tremendous loss.

Strayed did the same thing at the book signing last week, when I sat beside her and listened to people pour out their hearts. Like her, they had lost their mothers, felt lost, mustered courage and kept going.

One woman came to buy her book without knowing Strayed would be reading that night. Another told Strayed she was her “personal Jesus.” A man named Ezekiel showed up without a book to have signed — only to tell Strayed how much the Sugar column had helped him. Strayed stood to give him a hug — “some Sugar love,” as she called it — and he started to cry.

She urged an overdue pregnant woman to “hike up and down hills. It totally brings it on,” and another just to take a walk. “It always makes things better.”

She signed an e-reader, and Tina Roley’s copy of “The World According to Garp,” by John Irving, “so it wouldn’t be jealous of the other book” that Strayed had signed.

“So many stories of loss and resilience,” Strayed told me when it was over. “Telling them makes us stronger.”

Names in Bold appears every Tuesday. Reach Nicole Brodeur at 206-464-2334 or