This morning, when I woke, the world was utterly still.
Most mornings, now, I wake in the dark. A little earlier than need be, for the sake of some time to drink tea and get the limbs warm before we start our early days. And most mornings, by any standard I’d have had in comparing life here at the farm to life in an urban environment, the place seems “still.” But this morning, it was eerily so. I bumped into another apprentice in the morning dark and asked if maybe I’d gotten so confused that I’d missed Daylight Savings (or the end of it? All that confusion is another bag of worms…).
Turns out, this kind of stillness likes to hang out under dense cloud-cover, supersaturated with rain. It’s like a giant from the most hyperbolically-scaled fairytale were up there, holding a giant-sized Gatorade tub above us all (for those of you who watch a little football, you know what I mean).
Harvesting salad greens first thing, this morning, it began to rain. A light mist. Like something out of the English countryside of Pride and Prejudice. “If it starts to really dump on us, then it won’t be so sweet.” Of course, it does.
An hour later we’re in the same field, lightning shrieking around above. I’m counting the seconds between flash and boom. They’re closer, farther, closer, farther, farther, farther. One more flash, I barely get to, “One—” and it’s like that giant upstairs decided they were bored with getting us soaked, and took the game-winning trophy and smashed it against the bleachers.
I’ve been very close to some lightning strikes, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so suddenly exposed, so immediately vulnerable. I went from standing to a near-fetal position squat, to bolting into the barn with my coworkers.
“Nice job on those radishes!” What? I look at my left hand and realize, I’m clutching a bunch of radishes. Half-vacantly I think, “Needs two more and it’s just right.”
My legs are shaking a bit, and we’re all smiling. We’re all soaked, and shaken, and smiling. It’s all a bit awkward–we’re all safe, it was just one strike, surely nothing to worry about, eh? No worries! It’s a wonderfully alchemical mixture of feelings; a little frightened, a little uncomfortable, a little adrenalized, and deeply happy. A perfectly baked cake, if you will.
One of the many reasons farming appeals so strongly to me is exactly what today brought: the world. The world without temperature control, without sterilized comfort masquerading as shelter. The world of sensory exposure and service.
By midday it was bright, the blue sky a warm blanket, all the birds were out and busy–atypical at midday, but common after a heavy rain. I wonder how many of them watched us do our weird human thing in the downpour. I wonder if any of them laughed as we fled inside.
As I write this, it’s the end of another hard day’s work. And I feel more alive than ever.
Matthew is an apprentice at Horton Road Organics, committed to learning how to farm as an act of service for all beings.