We are one week away from the start of our summer farmer’s market season. We have been so steadily putting one foot in front of the other this spring, getting ready for this stretch of the year, these next 20-30 weeks or so, our “main” season here on the farm, and now that it is just one week away, of course, we are feeling not steady at all but instead just rushed, rushed, rushed. Those gooseberries I wrote about that never got weeded are nearly giving me nightmares, they have all but disappeared underneath the bindweed. And the strawberry patches we hope to be harvesting from in the next few weeks are playing hide and seek in some knee high grass.
Oh, the adventures of it all!
We are fairly used to this routine by now, seven years in, but that doesn’t mean we can always control our feelings of ineptitude when we encounter, even repeatedly, the sheer force of the wild world. With a leftover sore throat caught from the children, today I feel it overtime. Today, I dream about the many hired hands we could use if only we could afford to hire them. I dream of a week straight of childcare so that I can get ahead. I dream of the sleepy feel of winter.
Life on the farm truly is about routines and cycles, and as such is fairly predictable, at least in general, even if it is not in the particular. Those things change every season, and are always a mystery we have to watch unfold as we go. But the cycle remains the same.
Every year, at least once at this time of year, we will feel overwhelmed. Some years it is the weather, the waiting for the land to dry. Some years, it is the planting and keeping things going in the ground on schedule. Some years it is the money and do we have enough right now when we spend it the most.
And this year, I swear, it is the weeds.
I walk the farm with the babe of a boy on my hip and worry about getting some air to our perennial fruits. And I can’t seem to catch up. And everywhere I look I see another thistle or burdock or hemlock plant that needs to be knocked down before it blooms. I sigh and let the one rainy day in this month, today, comfort me with rest while I make the lists that will keep us moving forward.
Then, tomorrow, I will set out again, one step at a time, moving towards this unattainable goal of getting to all those weeds. With or without reaching it, just like every year, I know that soon the summer will fully set in and we will be back in the swing of it all. We always “catch up” eventually. We always move from this kind of busy to the harvesting kind of busy, all fun and full, hearts raised and beating hard, out in the sun while it lasts.
The farm is always moving, both in a forward-upward motion, as well as in a circle. Kind of like life. The path it takes always leads somewhere good, even though it is not always right on target or 100% predictable. We start a farming season in all possibility, all hope. Then, inevitably, we get a bit waylaid for a while in the weeds, until we emerge and find that once again, everything is again. Even more than okay. We find that just like every year, it is bursting in greatness. We find ourselves swimming in the river on hot summer afternoons, staying up late not just working but playing by the bonfire, wishing on twinkling stars. We find ourselves blissfully breathing easy again, while the land provides, ever abundantly.
I could almost say that it happens with or without us, and that would almost be true. The earth provides. It cycles, on and on, ever and always. But we did, and do, a lot in order to receive this fecundity year after year. This, we must always remember, no matter what kind of spring craze we are feeling.
This, we must remember, no matter if we feel a bit like we are still at the bottom of the staircase of the year. Because all of us, most likely, have been doing the work we need to do, moving forward on the journey, even when we are at that point when we can’t exactly see it. Perhaps a few steps more forward, even with a blindfold on, will lead us up and into the light.