The farm crew got together this week to harvest our last variety of apples for the year, save one stray Gala tree at the top of the main field we decided not to collect so we can still have something to tell the big children to go and nibble on when they are hankering for a snack. That simple pleasure is slowly coming to an end. They can’t go grab a cucumber and eat it straight from the vine anymore. There are no fresh green beans to nibble, the peas and strawberries a very distant memory. We had the most luscious fall raspberries this year, but the ones now left on the brambles are decidedly not tasty, and my own garden’s fall carrots a bust while the farmer’s carrots are a prized possession not for the children’s free plucking. That leaves one last apple tree and what remains of the grapes left for them to run outside and snack on, straight from the land.
Oh, the ease of summer eating.
I, too, already miss the quick meal of piled tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce–almost ready to eat as is, so little time needed to prepare. I guess the fact that we are moving into stew and roast and soup season, where time is an essential part of the equation, is apropos for the simple fact that there now is more time. We are not filling a day with garden work and harvesting while preserving well into the wee hours of the night anymore. The sun sets at dinner time. There is no push to keep working in spite of grumbling bellies, a feeling those long summer days have built into them.
Bringing in the last of the apples the other day, with this whole crew of silly people, was so symbolic: collecting the near end of the sun’s energies for a season, culminating in those sweet red fruits. All of us, filled too, with vitality from a season in the sun.
I always feel like summer is a bursting open, an expansion that almost goes too far, pushes us wide to our very tips. Then autumn comes and the earth slowly wraps itself around us, everything contracts, and we come and turn inward. There is time to think, again.
But this kind of day on the farm–all of us gathered together, gathering together the fruits of the combined labor of this very earth and our own twelve hands, the sweetness of working the land together, the sweetness of fresh fruit on our tongues, the ease of being free in the sun and playing till dusk with wild abandon–this kind of day on the farm is one of the last. Even though they don’t stop producing for us, the fields don’t really need us in the winter.
Our bodies have stored the summer just under the skin to warm us from the inside out through the cold season, and we have stored these apples to fuel our bellies with the taste of that sunshine too.
We bring it all inside and work together in other ways now. Gathered together by the fire, ideas and stories and the worlds of the mind are our work, thoughts and creations to grow and tend and harvest, together.