I’ve been reading blog posts from last year. Around now we were building our chick brooder, collecting tools, crop planning. This year things are quieter. The crop plan is done, the seeds are here, the barn is already clean and organized. There’s time to read and bake and visit. There’s something comforting in looking back to where we were at this time last year and seeing that things are pretty much the same, only a little different around the edges.
What I’m trying to say is that I love this, that I’m ready again, that being ready again amazes and comforts me. I was exhausted in November. I wanted the winter to last forever. I wanted to curl up in the deep snow and sleep and sleep and sleep. Now, three months later, I’ve spent a lot of days cooking and reading and napping, walking out in the sunshine and visiting friends. I’m not so tired now. I love the winter absolutley, and I’m glad we’ve still got a few weeks before our first seeding, and much longer before we get out onto the dirt, but I’m ready. I’m ready to do it all over again. Spring seemed impossible back in November – all that work, again? All those long, sweaty days, endless weeding, endless planting, an endless to-do list, all that love and worry, again? Back in November, looking beyond the quiet wall of winter just made me want to go to sleep for a long, long time.
Spring’s not here, not even close, but farmers are already whispering to each other, when are you seeding your onions, when are you starting your leeks? The days are getting longer. You can feel the sunlight strengthening, glistening on the snow, turning your face golden. I’ve got a lot of lazy bread-baking afternoons, a lot of skis still planned, a lot of pots of soup ahead of me, before the season starts again. But I’m ready. I want to do it all over again. I can’t wait for the surprises this season will bring, for its particular challenges and sweet, unexpected bounties. I want to do it again and again, every spring, every summer, every fall, for the rest of my life.
Last year at our garlic planting, a smart and fantastic four year old, one of our younger CSA members, asked her mother, “do farmers hibernate in the winter?” It was an incredibly sweet question. “Sort of,” we answered her.
I think the truth is that the thing that hibernates most during the winter – at least for me – is this feeling of readiness, the joy I take in growing things, the absolute knowledge that I want to do it again. It’s not like I decided, over the winter, that I didn’t want to be a farmer anymore. But for a few months, I wasn’t ready to face the season again: the part of me that is eager for work was hibernating. I let it rest undisturbed. I’ve been doing other things: reading novels, playing with my nephew, visiting friends.
And just like I knew it would, like it always does, with the first, faint, far-off scent of spring on the wind, with the return of the sun, it’s back, the part of me that just wants to work and work, that can’t wait for the season, that knows this is what I’m meant to do, this is what I love most of all. It’s like falling in love again every spring, something springing back into place, and I know that this is how I want to spend my days, and I want to do it over and over again, every year, for as long as I possibly can.