The Shrinking: Fall Veggie Share #2 – Wed. 11/4
The other day, my friend Rachel asked me how I was doing with the seasonal transition. She asked me with a very knowing, intense gaze – both because she is a therapist and tends to ask questions this way, and because she is married to a farmer. She knows just how difficult the transition to winter can be for us farmers.
On the one hand, I’m excited. Farming is busy, stressful work that has high demands on my body. I look forward to the slowing down of winter…. while I continue to carry the responsibilities of running the business end of our farm during the winter, I no longer have the day to day stress of planning and managing a crew in tandem with the whimsical weather. My work changes to the office. I catch up on all the books, do the taxes, peruse seed catalogs, hire a new team, advertise for members, and work towards how I want to expand what our farm does in the food security realm. Winter is also my time to rest my body and recharge my soul. I do lots of yoga, play in the snow, hike the fields with my dog, increase my meditation game, read, watch movies, drinks lots of warm coffee and tea, and snuggle up with my kids and read lots of books.
But winter can also be lonely, especially at work. During peak season, my radio goes off all day long as I answer questions and orchestrate the movement of our operation. I get the chance to work in the company of others… so much chatter, so much laughter. The farm is full and bustling with social energy. I am totally energized and fed by the farm’s demands on me. In winter, it’s mostly just me at my desk alone. The transitions between these two states of work are gradual and there’s time to adjust, whether I’m ramping up or down, but going into winter is always the hardest. I miss the farm the staff and don’t feel nearly as motivated to do my work.
As Rachel so astutely said to me, “To be a farmer, it really seems like you have to come to peace with seasonal transitions that are forced upon you. You can’t break from that cycle no matter what time of year it is.”
True. So true.
In Beloved, Toni Morrison writes, “In Ohio seasons are theatrical. Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it.” I adore this quote, as it encapsulates what I love most about midwest weather. Each season is so pronounced and provides such excitement and rhythm to my world. The intensity of winter is beautiful in its own right, and its difficulty of cold and quiet brings me greater appreciation to its foil – the hot, bustling summer.
So I’m doing my best to embrace the shrinking – the shrinking social circle of the farm, the shrinking of demands from the fields. I try to think of this quiet time as my recharge time… my little battery has to be plugged in to the office and get recharged before I can be out and moving in the fields again.