My winter mantra: There is no heat in the house unless someone builds a fire.
The love of the garden, the nourishing way in which she has held my hand all season is starting to fade. Stems of kale, choi, and collards are burned from the below freezing temperatures. Frost gives the plants a beautiful glass like appearance as they begin to wilt in the dry, winter air. My house is warm, the livestock all tucked away with hay blankets and barriers. The tall summer crops have lost their color and stand like skeletons above the under-sown, bright green cover crop. The fiery leaves have fallen and ice pelts the tin roof in waves. After months of outward living, I pull my heart back into my being just before the frost claims it.
Walking the quieted landscape I find glimpses of next year's bounty. Dried plants dropping seeds, the beautiful architecture of a Praying Mantis nest, and the occasional stir within the beehive. The insects, for the most part, have finished their display and have either joined the great ceremony of spirit in decay, or have found someplace safe to hide out until the greenery returns. Within the greenhouse a portrait of what was remains, giving us a small feast of life to hold us through the months of frozen ground. It is this time of year that melancholy hits my deepest notes and the coyote calls make me feel the most at ease.
In a world so complex, with so many stirring issues to hold captive the mind, it is difficult to lay my soul to rest as the farm goes to sleep. My eyes are free from the constant attentiveness necessary for the garden to flourish and are suddenly made to see this troubled world around me. Where good news sprouts, bad news sprouts in smothering, aggressive droves. A delicate ecosystem, connected by the fibers of our Universe, tormented and destroyed by individuals who desperately seek freedom, peace, and justice. Mapping out a path for the renewal of our planet involves so much compromise that it seems an impossibility. How can we find common ground when our societies are so built on separation? How can we find the love necessary to rebuild our soils and atmosphere when love and compassion are not even shared among our fellow human beings?
These two hands and my weary mind are only capable of so much. A limitation that is of an intelligent design, the cultivation of my life on Earth a journey without end, evolution through the hardest trials without the possibility of making all things right. My time on this planet is one tiny piece of a greater painting, the colors of my friends, family, strangers, and antagonists all bringing this beautiful, tragic, and masterful existence a sense of growth. There is no end, there is no answer. My only hope in putting my hands into the soil, sowing seeds in land rich with life, is to preserve my piece. To foster life where it can be boundless, where it can extend into chaos and mimic the very nature of our Universe.
To fall in love with nature is to know pain. It is to suffer and mourn and yet find hope in the deepest, darkest corners of the forest, in the tiniest casings of seeds. There is no heat in the house unless someone builds a fire. This mantra carries me along my journey, giving levity to my heavy heart. There can be no change without action and I commit myself knowing that my farm will be a sanctuary in a world whose natural spaces are becoming islands among wastelands. Rare things are often more vivid, sweeter, and carry a spectacular richness that outweighs the poverty of honest work. I sip from the vanishing cup of wilderness and my spirit is renewed. I will celebrate her brilliance, this final dance, and I will hold hands with all of those not afraid to go against the grain of society and align themselves with the regenerative forces of creation.
There is always hope, especially when there is no end.