Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life and Seasons, with Potatoes

A lifetime is a long time, or a short time...and it's all the same time, the same life, just a matter of your perspective. It's one of those relative units of measure, like a cubit or span...varies from individual to individual, but is basically unchanging in and of itself. Today I find myself in the odd place of feeling I am smack at the middle of my life, while knowing that one of my bus customers came suddenly to the end of his life on Saturday...and that could happen to any one of us, any time.

Not that it always makes a difference, but--please wear a helmet, or hard hat, or whatever. It's the only head you've got. Life's dangerous. But for heaven's sake go out and DO it, with gumption and gusto, just take care of yourself.

A season is a long time, or a short time...depending on where you are in relation to it, and how much remains on your "to-do" list that really MUST be done, and on the other hand depending on how nice or miserable the weather is.

This current time is a shifting of seasons, the "dog days" of summer (downtown side walk sale this Thursday--a frenzied shopping ritual I avoid) easing their way into prominence. The early cicadas, shrieking in the trees. The advent of blister beetles in the garden, helping to reduce leaf area on drought-stressed plants (not many of those this wet season!). In a predictable turn of the seasons, the springtime "fair weather" volunteers gradually fade away to air-conditioned rooms, cozying in with good books until after Labor Day, or plotting get-aways to cooler climes. Like sand slipping through an hour glass, the announcement of travel plans dwindle the work crew week by week. By and by, they'll return with cooler weather and busy fall schedules.

The dedicated ones plug away at it with me. "When I do have my own farm, it won't be in Kansas," one comments--and that's on the pretty cool morning of a not-as-hot-as-it-could-be day. I laugh. I have to agree with her--and the sheep also would agree, if they understood her words. But God had other plans--He lured me to this piece of land and let me fall in love with 12 acres of perfect soil. A bit hard to transplant to a new location. They say real estate is about location, location, location...well, I guess farming is about dirt, dirt, dirt, and here's where my dirt happens to be, August and all.

But it's all good. We have a lot of potatoes and tomatoes in...a lot of garden pretty well mulched...most of the fences pretty well mended...a lot of routines pretty well in order. The heavy push of spring and early summer has faded into a slightly saner, steadier routine for summer. We have acheived a lot of progress this season. There is a lot of work to be done, but now is the time for slacking off a bit, taking longer breaks, looking around at what we have created and saying, "This is good".

The main occupations are harvesting, weeding, mulching, mowing, moving sheep. We have new tools and tehcniques for some of these this year, especially the mowing. As crazy as the weeds are looking with all this rain, I can see hope that we are prevailing. And next year will be even better. Instead of maximizing profits this season, we are "farming for next year"--focussing on things that will make next year our best season yet.

There is a certain rhythm emerging this time of year; every task has worn into a sense of familiarity for the season. Next year they will seem new again, at first, but then quickly settle back into routine. That will happen earlier in the year, since we won't be starting from scratch with so many of them. Then the season of summer will be even more relaxed.

We took about 40 lbs of potatoes to Farmer's Market on Saturday--rummaged out of half of each of 4 beds. There more than 20 beds...so far...and each bed has 2 rows... that's more than 40 rows that will be harvested at least 2 or 3 times each. We are perhaps 3% done with potato harvest! Harvesting potatoes will be one of the steady rhythms of the next several months.

Washing potatoes.

Admiring potatoes.

Selling potatoes.

Eating potatoes.

And it IS good.

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