There is something about January that quiets me. It’s like all that beginning energy that comes with the flip of the calender page and the excitement of planning for a new year through the holidays hits the wall of the slow, short, and still days of this first month, and with that bang, a hush falls. Last year I didn’t get around to this space from the solstice through Chinese New Year, this year even longer. What have I been doing?!
Truly, January, and February are the two months my children get nearly all of me as we cram in, more dutifully, our school work for the year than we do at other, busier times of the year. The farm is sleeping. The world, really, is too.
And so, I guess, I find myself hibernating even when my to-do list is quite long. And almost like clockwork, the halfway to spring mark arrives with the first of February (Imbolc, as it was once called, now, roughly speaking, Groundhog’s day), and the energy inside my beating heart and outside in the pulsing earth begins to pick up speed. I never really think of this quiet time as the doldrums, but this year it felt a bit like that. Probably because I had my own set of expectations for those “lost” weeks that didn’t fit with the rhythm of the seasons, outside or in. I think next year I will be more gracious with myself and accept that I too, might need to winter in January. I guess that means I will either need to get some of my winter “office” work done in December or be cool with putting it off until February. It seems there is a pattern forming…
Nevertheless, the point of this story is that things are picking up again around here. Coming back to life. Warm, sunny days too good to be true. New growth on old winter produce, so tasty! And new growth on brand new baby seedlings. The cycle starts again. And that it does, every year, again and again, that is so completely refreshing.
We started the year with three days at the beach. It was just what we needed because up to the holidays, the farmer had been working hard and long since about this same time last year. A real getaway! We wrote down those things we wanted to let go of from 2012, as well as those things we wished to bring to the new year, on tiny scraps of paper and threw them in the fire. We held each other close and watched the sun set on a pivotal year in our lives, not our hardest or most challenging, but the first in a long while to redefine us. We really are excited for the clarity this year brought us. And we feel so positive about 2013, even though we have come to it with these whispering footsteps, and here it is, almost March already.
February sun here in the Willamette Valley is tricky, because the rain begins again, in earnest, and lasts sometimes way too long. Still, it fortifies us. We’ve been soaking it up, working outside, steeping tea leaves in it. The truth is, even with all the rain to come, the season has changed. The nettles have sprouted, the greenhouse is full, we are harvesting both the first rapini and sprouting broccoli from overwintered plants as well as the first baby arugula leaves from brand new plants.
I can’t help but worry if it is wrong to let myself slumber so? It feels so contrary to much of the modern impulse to be busy all the time. But really, I have been busy; I am the mother of four after all, come winter or summer. But to let the tempo of the natural world resonate within us, that can not be all bad. And perhaps, for better or worse, that is part and parcel of being farmers, of living close to and working the land. One of those things about this farm life that can be both overly romanticized–because I really could have got a lot of things done in these last many weeks–or rightly praised.
That judgement I cannot make definitively, I can only say that for me, it simply is that way. And that for me, it feels right. The seasons have always been my guide, marking the passage of my time here on earth, entwined tightly with all the memories I have laid down, I can’t help but live by them. I swore to always live somewhere with all four of them, distinct. And here, they are, albeit in a way quite different from my Midwestern home. And here, on this farm, they mold me more than ever.
So now, we are waking up again, bit by bit, to the new year.