To everything there is a season is especially true in New England. And the season of gardens and flowers came to an end, simultaneously slowly and abruptly, with the onset of frost and impending snow. I ran out in the early evening after work last night, braving the cold rain to pick the last few pink tomatoes and a couple tomatillos. Everything else is harvested now, and what is left is soon to be gone.
The freeze that is set to follow it will kill all my plants, and then it’s a matter of pulling out the old, and planting some garlic and more bulbs around the yard before the dirt becomes impacted with ice for the season. This too shall pass – more words for gardeners. But there is still one final round of preserving work to do – a few more apple chips, that last batch of salsa verde, and a friend dropped off a garbage bag filled with kale to be turned into kale chips and blanched and frozen. Add to that our final CSA visit tomorrow, and the harvest is complete. I may get inspired to make apple sauce or apple butter, but by Sunday afternoon, what can be done for the season will be.
And while there’s some sadness in letting go, there’s also relief. Another season is past, and what will come next is to be seen. We enter another winter warm, safe and well-fed. A full cord of wood will help keep us cozy, some desperately needed new pipes provide our water and the squashes and preserves are just a tiny bit of the bounty that fills the freezer and pantry. For all that there is so much to worry about, my gratitude for the small things – enough to eat, a warm house, my morning walks, my family – is boundless.
I pray I never lose my ability to be grateful for the basics.
Now it is the tiny respite before the holidays, that few weeks where the doing of things – other than work and school – starts to wind down. This year the holidays will be mellow and quiet for us, and Eli and I will do something we’ve never done, in celebrating Thanksgiving with just the 2 of us while the kids go with their Dad. I love big family gatherings, but I’m truly looking forward to a quiet and lovely meal with my husband. We’ll do the big family things next year. I’ll cook a turkey and all the sides in December, because it wouldn’t be winter without it, but I don’t feel a need to keep everything ‘normal’.
It simply isn’t this year, and that’s okay.
I’ve reached the point where I don’t like where we are with this virus but I’m at peace with it. We’re home. We are creating our new normal, and that includes lots of cooking and doing house projects. Our groceries primarily arrive by delivery and we go out almost not at all, so much so that I recently realized my car inspection sticker had expired…2 months ago. We have almost finished a wide variety of house projects and winter preparations, with only insulating our old, leaky windows for the season left to go.
It’s time to take a breath. Here on the Sithean farmlet, there are of course, endless things to be done. Paint needing touching up. Closets and a chicken coop to be cleaned out. Laundry, cooking, planting the things that need to winter over out of doors.
But as I make my lists I also revel in how much we’ve accomplished.
When I look back on 2020, I will be sad about the virus running unchecked through the country, about 1000 acts of police brutality on protesters, about the housing insecure and the hungry, and that somehow in 2016 we elected a petty narcissist who wanted to tear down democracy and create an alternate sense of truth. My feelings on this are powerful, and I am unapologetic about them. But also I have let go of my anger at those who brought us here – and that, too, is an accomplishment.
I cannot ask for empathy for others who need it if I don’t first give it myself. 2020, then, is a year of evolution. If what we need is a shared reality to bridge our divides, I can either rail against those on the other side of the chasm or I can build bridges. I choose to build.
Tonight we will settle in with homemade pizza, a movie, and probably another fire in the wood stove. We will celebrate another week of hard work gone by and a weekend spent cooking and planting and continue trying, probably unsuccessfully, to teach Teddy the dog what it means to go for a walk (Dear Teddy, it means actually walking, not alternatively pulling my arm out of it’s socket or randomly lying down in the road).
Tomorrow we will celebrate Halloween in whatever way we can that involves no trick-or-treating. And while I don’t know what’s next, where we are is enough right now.
May you be warm and safe on your journey through the rest of this year.