Farm News

2015 CSA Week 19

sunflower closeup

CSA Week #19 Saturday, October 10th

Dear CSA Family,

What wondrous changes fall brings to a farm. Hundreds upon hundreds of geese greet us overhead each morning while on our chore rounds. Their numerous wingtips span the breadth of the sky. When I soften my gaze, the thick bodies connect fluidly, seem to be of their own language, cursive-dots spelling messages across the half-lit morning. “Welcome to Ridgefield,” I call to them, hoping they know I am pulling for their safe passage.

Unobtrusively, like crisp maple leaves, one by one, each day is peaceably giving way to the next, floating down past us to create a changed landscape. Throughout the course of our days now, we experience fleeting moments of change and simple acts of farm life that will shepherd us into the waning daylight.

As the last tomatoes crack and rot earthward, we find in amongst them a baby tomato seedlings, volunteering themselves up into this world, undaunted by the quiescent days to come, just growing their hearts out skyward.

After a summer of bare shoulders, Rosie, our old sow, has grown a coarse winter coat of hair. As I run my hands over her neck, feeling that soft spot right behind her ears, I’m surprised to see burnt amber and black patches across her back. After donning rusty red coloring for 7 years, she’s apparently decided to change styles with her new fall ‘apparel'.

Twice now, Brad has witnesses a red-tailed hawk catch and carry off a starling in mid-air!

Once now, I’ve stood, vegetable in hand and let my mind follow the mutual backscratching by the donkeys. When one starts muzzling the back of the other, instinctively the second reciprocates. Then when satisfaction arises, they both stop. I cannot make out any verbal “thank yous,” but politely, they stand close, shoulders touching for a moment longer.

At night as I close up the coop and listen to chickens murmur bedtime stories. When I am done, I stay outside two breaths longer. The damp chill of the darkening skies sails across my cheeks with a sudden intensity that speaks no longer of summer.

So far, this fall 'shoulder' season at April Joy Farm has been transitorily smooth and subdued. The big changes this time of year are proving to be stealthy, not grandiose. As between sets on a play, we’re moving, one by one, all the stage props off from the first performance. Mother Nature is setting up for the next show. Sometime soon, we expect, the scene changes will happen behind a curtain of frost.

Yes, all sorts of simple, surprising changes drape us now. But because of the subtlety of it all, it's easy to just feel one day is a near repeat of the next. We "fall" into our fall routines and this repetitiveness can bring a complacency that dulls us. So we are extra mindful now, to listen, see, feel and hear the diminutive, unique moments of each day.

Inthe very middle of daily minutia, I revel in the praying mantis cocoons fixed so deftly on plant stems and greenhouse benches. I duck near a doorway to avoid damaging the multi-varigated belly of a mama spider working, working, working to capture supper and find energy to hatch her young. Out with the pigs, I hear the reedy rattle of 12 sandhill cranes, and look up just as their sharp V passes, crisply headed eastbound. Unexpectedly, as if choreographed, a flock of red-winged blackbirds in their own westbound V, flying much lower, intersect the cranes' trajectory to create a cross-hatched tapestry of flight. The whole show was set to the music of strong feathered wings drumming up the wind.

Fall does include a few dramatic shifts, but now, it is the smallest changes I engage all my senses to notice. Most times, these experiences hold no more width than the breadth of our hands. It is not in the monotony of responsibilities and commitments, but these small personable moments, frugal, elementary vignettes, that remind me of the richness of my life.

Morning after early, early morning, I’ve woken to hear the resolute call of a great-horned owl. Like the steady beat of a drum, this flute-sounding soloist is steadfast in timing, cadence and presence. Then, one morning, Brad hears two owls calling back and forth, one with a slightly higher pitch. I listen too, with all my senses. Their billowy notes hold in my ears long after the sound evaporates, knitting a contemplative shawl for my awakening.

For all the difficult, intensive labors we undertake this time of year, for all the tasks needing done once or over and over again, for all the animals under our care, for all the ways in which we are spread thin, it is good for me to remember none of it will be enjoyable, meaningful with out the itty-bitty, special, unique moments that flavor our days. Without these littlest of pauses, these smallest of details, the big picture is lost. If I spend my timing wishing for all the stage sets to be rearranged for that next show, I’ll look up and find in the slog to "get it all done," I will have missed the show, the meaning of the show. All the actors will have gone home.

And maybe this is the message of October. Amongst the long to-do lists and big projects, I need not yearn for dramatic changes to break some sort of monotony. This undoing of my thinking teaches me that satisfaction is abundant in the way we navigate the nuances of our days. Conscious of it our not, we choose to rush, we choose to dull our senses. Equally true, we can decide to walk one half step slower, we can decide to fill our lungs with warm fall air, take one breath at a time, notice how a loved one's skin feels against our cheek mid-hug. We can linger one moment longer, we can taste, sip by sip, the complex flavors of a warm soup. We can be, at our kitchen tables, with whatever distractions befall us, and still remainattentive in sight and sound and touch to what this moment, which will never come again, has to offer.

At quiet time, nearly 2 year old niece Mae was cavorting, banging on the walls, wildly celebrating something in her room. On the other side of the door Grandma Sandi debated if entering the bedroom would be the right thing to do. Finally she did, and found Mae exuberant and clearly involved in some big, raucous, imaginary playing. Grandma Sandi said, “Mae, it is time to take a nap now, before quiet time is over.” Mae, in her crib, looked up at her Grandma and said matter of factly, “No problem!” Then she laid right down and fell soundly asleep.

Could you find one tiny, eccentric moment in each day and share it, revel in it, appreciate it? Somehow, someway, choose to celebrate it? These special pieces of our days are rich and strongly flavored. Consider the tiny, funny, striking, interesting moments to be your favorite herbs, meant to season every meal. Just a little sprinkling goes a long way. Imaginary, creative, fantastic, wild, and sometimes even mundane parts of our schedules may arise fresh and comforting with this new perspective. But we must first choose with intention to harvest the ripeness, to purposefully spice our lives, to engage and connect with what surrounds us, even and amidst our steady, necessary, structured routines.

So close your eyes, or listen with a new attentiveness, admire a rose (blooming in October!), or feel the true texture of some important fabric in your life.In this way, we collectively stave off mundaneness, we collectively say to the repetitive nature of schedules, "No problem!"

Your Farmer,

P.S. If your pantry seems bare of 'herbs and spices,' don't worry. We have special moments aplenty out here at the farm and we're always glad to share. For starters, we'll show you all the magnificent black oil sunflower heads in our drying shed (captured in this week's photo). Strikingly pretty in person and delicious too!

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts.”
~Winnie the Pooh

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