Farm News

First Rain, On Wings of Grace

photo of small jars of seeds for saving with intermixed marigolds

The rain came Sunday, holy Sunday. I was in the high tunnel picking kale; it was the very last crop on the day’s list. How perfectly fitting that the weather held out- shining on our harvest even as it dropped from the sky.

I felt the seeping coolness on the back of my neck. With legs tucked beneath me, I stopped picking. I sat back on my heels, releasing the clippers from my hands. I closed my eyes and listened. Rain begs to be heard.

One moment I was heavy with summer, the weight of every crate and commitment saddling my back, my hands, my head. The next, I was exhaling the last nine months. Slow breath after slow breath, suddenly I let go of all my efforts and desires, all my experiences and expectations. I felt as light as the ginger-red maple leaves falling near the barn. I let go of my clutch on Summer’s tree, holding faith that the shushing tears of the sky would soften the ground of my landing. This first rain was pure falling away and coming home. Outwardly, I was so still. Inwardly, my spirit wide, I was gliding on a moment full of a promise not of more, but of less.

I have worked sedulously to craft a life that hones my senses and my sensitivities. I fail often, but temperamental and fumbling as my path has been, I keep practicing. Farming refines my spirit, continues to weather me towards the kind of grace I most admire. After a decade of first rains, I have become sublimely attune to the power and kindness that permeate such ephemeral moments.

The aroma of fall’s first carrot harvest. The first migrating Sandhill cranes. The first pot of soup. The first October storm outside and the crackling of the kindling freshly lit in the wood stove inside. The truth is that our days are filled with first moments – for every moment at hand holds the possibility of a first, if only we are wholehearted enough to reach for it while we can. I have always enjoyed these first moments, but now, now I have the patience and the perspective to live them.

On Sunday, I stopped to welcome the rain. I stopped so I could welcome the power and kindness of all first moments.

Then, I opened my eyes and caught sight of a honeybee resting curiously beside me. I drew close. Compassion welled up within me. My hands were dry and deeply stained with soil, having carried this farm across its own summer of harvest. But this was nothing—mine was a minor effort, a pittance. Here was a spirit who had given every gift she had, who had made the very most of every moment she had been given. Her wings were threadbare; to feed kith and kin, she had flown them ragged.

Reluctant to fly and undisturbed by my presence, I gathered that she was dying. She made her way onto a small round of soil, which I picked up. My intuition led and cautiously, my feet followed, up and out into that soft first rain.

I knelt and slowly rested the soil and the weary bee on Joy’s doorstep.* It was as simple as that. A tireless worker, tired. She walked off the crumb of earth and paused on the threshold to receive a warm familial welcome. I watched a sister, racing home to escape the wet weather, bumpily land and dust her with a speck of sunflower pollen.

It was only then, with ultimate grace, she carried her miraculous body into the hive; those torn wings tenderly, achingly, barely in motion, waving me thank you, waving me goodbye. ~AJ

*For those who may not know, Joy is the name of one of our beehives.

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