Field Notes - Week 3

What does it take to enjoy the good times? After episodes of bitter cold and unsightly snow, days where the morning sun appeared - from muddied skies - only when the afternoon breeze pulled it out from hiding, it seems as though the unpredictability of weather is veering in our favor. We begin discarding our impenetrable layers of cotton and nylon and embracing the entrance of languid warmth. The winds, a gut punch of brute strength just a week ago, are markedly more docile as they whip up the chatter of tree top bird colonies, sending it ground level. Their tunes send a pulse of bliss and reprieve. A changing dynamic, a renaissance in and around the fields, is taking shape. When our vehicles rip toward the outer fields, a plume of dirt follows our wheel while a cloud of our tracks in left behind. In all this change, one can only surmise that spring is in the air, infiltrating our senses and giving us the prize of potential and promise.

 

For the time being, we are stowing away our shivering teeth and hammering jaws. The full reveal of spring and all its sensibilities are encroaching slowly, but with purpose. It takes the gradual realization that a cloak of beating sun rays and sleeveless shirts bring out the best of a farm. Our reverence of these months does not diminish the spellbound fascination of a brief winter’s day. In these days, we quarrel with the previous season in order to determine what captured our eye, what took root and blossomed, and ultimately, what failed.

 

Winter bears the burden of honest introspection. In the time it takes to reason with the troubles of last year’s harvest, new ground is broken. The new season begins when the setting sun dips below the horizon line, the frost riddled soil beds unbreakable with human hand. But in the time before field preparation begins, the world softens its color, muting the vibrancy found in towering sunflowers and blankets of lavender. The gestures we make in appreciation of the land - harvesting, seeding, soil preparation -  become rarities, if not only for the occasional check in. Solemnly, the farm retreats and weathers the uncertainty of scant production.

 

So do we assume winter to be the bad times? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person views as a tapestry of bare bone beauty - snow covered canopies and the destitute activity - another might see as a dismal abyss where the only remedy is found in the months ahead. But the question - what constitutes the good times and bad times on a farm - is remedial in both scope and trajection. It’s unfit to cast type winter sanctimoniously. There is no joy in the awakening of spring if the trials of winter do not test a farmer’s patience. There is no renewal of life if it lives uninterrupted. There is no way to awe at the boundaries of depth your land holds if, for a few months, you cannot understand the invigorating nature of death.

 

The new few weeks will bring a lot of change to the farm, namely in the explosion of verdant field beds. As always, the greenhouse is the precipice of all doings on the farm, so we will religiously attend to the necessary tasks that await in there. A look inside will reward the onlooker with a canvas. Recently, the four of us here transplanted a bevy of eggplant and peppers, with seemingly an unending train of more on the way. Some of our vegetables have made it out of the greenhouse and into the fields. Onions, scallions, and cabbages (to name a few) have all been placed into the soil, furrowing the roots deeper and relying of the microbial life and nutrient content of the land to aid in their rise. It in in this process that we feel the invincibility of spring. Nothing feels unreasonable. No amount of swelter or muscle ache thwarts the necessity to keep on trudging forward.

 

As days become longer and light settles later into the night, the views we see magnify the bounty that awaits. Wind rhythmically sweeps rye and sorghum back and forth. Walk back to the barn and you’ll begin to feel the earth sigh in relief from behind. Days no longer wane. They seduce and boulder ahead, in anticipation of something just outside the scope of actualization. But it’s coming. What it is, we can’t say for sure. We are sure as heck are looking forward to it.