October. In the middle of summer I quake at the thought of winter. Stiff winter, with its hard grey mornings and cutting wind. It is harsh and fearful. I wonder why I live in Minnesota and why I chose a job that is so involved with the weather. I quickly push the thoughts of winter away.
But by the time October comes around, I am almost ready for it. I just want to go inside and sit down. Our little wood stove is enticing and mesmerizing. There are so many loose thoughts sloshing around in my head that need to be caught and held on paper where they will stop moving. They need to be frozen.
I can't say that I love winter, but one of the reasons I like farming is the rawness of it all. You can't escape the swings of the seasons. They get down into your bones. You have to reckon with them. And you can't skip the seasons. A farmer can't opt out of certain parts of the year. We are not nomads.
One thing I am noticing is that winter only becomes beautiful after a long and grueling summer. After all the action and blaze of summer work and growth, I start to crave the still and quiet. After turning all my attention to the external, I want some time to look inward. I have been chasing my hopes and ambitions for a long time. Perhaps I need to look into my fears.
There is a quiet calm in winter. But it requires a death. In the Autumn, everything is spent and dies. We give up our big dreams and let go. All our glorious monuments in the garden come crashing down with the first frost. If we don't let go of our work we can never sleep at night or experience the still beauty of winter.
I don't let go well. I have a tenacity in me that likes to push forward. I'm always working on something--at least in my head. When you are starting a farm or solving a complicated problem that is a good thing. But it also means I can be discontent with quiet calm times. Perhaps I am afraid of them.
But that Autumnal death is the important part. I have always liked Autumn. But I think I have always treated it more like a grand finale of summer and turned a blind eye to the death. True, the colors are grand and the air is intense. There are usually parties and festivals. But in the midst of that grows a small eye of fear and darkness. First a little, then a bit more. Until one day the frost is actually snow. I don't heed the warning. I zoom along until I run smack into winter. Then I am still wound up and winter freezes my bones and makes me grind my teeth. I am never ready for it.
But this year I hope to be ready. We are all tired here at ATF. I am noticing that beneath the glorious blaze of autumn, the summer growth is becoming ash. I am preparing myself to let go of my ambitions and all the things I insist on. And perhaps this winter I will experience the calm blue smoke that comes after the fire. And I am sure, that even when it seem like the cold dark is too cold and too dark, and I am tempted to fear and despair, a new light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.
But enough existential mubo-jumbo! What about the food? There are still good things in the garden. In your share this week you have...
The very last Tomatoes
Arugula (large leaves--try cooking them)
The season is almost over! Enjoy the end! Stock up on meat!
The ATF crew