It feels strange to reach back into the deep bag of memory and realize how long you’ve been in a place, doing your daily rounds. It feels strange, when it also seems to have vanished, so quickly. On a cold evening such as this one, when autumn has finally come around, I’m struck by how phantasmal time can seem. The great grace of this season, so far, for me, wasn’t what I expected, but it can be said this way: measuring time in onions. The soil keeps its own sense of time, in agreement with all forces cosmic, and its expression visible to my eye and hand and nose come forth in a crop. And we continue it on, in harvesting that expression, and folding an earthy and original sense of time into our rushed modern lives, an offering at market. This is a kind of healing that really hits home now that the season darkens and we arc towards winter.
During our Friday meeting, a solid and trustworthy piece of advice came at us apprentices. The effort it would take to bring the reader to this particular moment in our day, so afforded its beauty through context, and to do so eloquently–I cannot. So I’ll sum up the advice: “Let go.” Let go of this season. Let it rest with the soil beneath the burgeoning cover crop.
Of course, the pace of the age is not one of becoming dormant in the darker seasons of the year. If anything, how it’s always felt to me is the speed increases with the incoming holidays. I haven’t yet had a year where I felt so assuredly ready for dormancy as I do now. There hasn’t been a year where I felt that not only was it desirable, but also that, for the sake of health, practically nonnegotiable.
I cherish that October will be the last month of our farming season. There are still essential tasks each day, still several big projects, still much to be excited for and a pace to be kept diligently. And there’s a different kind of harvest I hope to take with me when I leave, and spend the winter in an urban home, and interact with friends and family who’ve not had the great fortune of farming this year: an indwelling sense of having earned a deep rest.
“Nightfall” by Philip Britts
The sun drops suddenly behind the hill,
I leave the desk, go out to watch the sky deepen,
Head weary with the day-long tap of thoughts;
Swiftly the fields darken.
A tree stands etched against the glowing West,
The trivial tinkle of the day recedes,
I feel the great earth turning, turning…
The birds are silent.
Only a five-ton truck, with headlights blazing,
Screams noisily up the long, dark hill,
Man too busy to heed the coming of the night;
A star watches.