Change is Slow, Change is Fast
This week marks the first week of summer. I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means; how I waited all fall for the respite and slow of winter, how just as I settled in to the quiet of the cold…spring arrived, and how spring – a time of rapid change and immense growth – has suddenly transitioned to summer. I barely noticed it happening. Is this a hazard of the work of farming?
Farming does seem to create a void in time. One task can feel long and short at the same time. Like how I notice what it feels like to hold each bunch of carrots, run the greens through my fingers and assess the weight. At the same time, hours of bunching go by in a flash of good conversation. Or how cutting loose greens seems to take hours of the day but then it’s only time for our first break. We move on to accomplish what can feel like an impossible number of things to have done in a day. But, I suspect that this quickness of spring was not an experience isolated to me or the farm, and I wonder if many of you also find yourself surprised at the abrupt arrival of summer.
Now that summer is here, I have noticed myself caught up in the rapid pace of spring and have decided to slow down. As I look around the farm (especially from the broad view offered by the high seat of the tractor), I notice evidence of all the change I forgot to witness.
The fields are full of tall, lush plants. We started these as seeds in the green house, up-potted them with meditative care, up-potted them again, moved them to a cooler space. They grew, hardened, grew some more. Then in a rolling formation, flowing through the steps and stages of the process in rhythm, we plopped the baby plants into the ground and tucked them into the soil. Now we harvest them. Some have even lived out their whole life cycle, having bolted or rotted or shriveled, and have been churned back into the soil to create space for a new succession.
The other day I went out to check on the pigs, and I noticed they’ve been changing too. They’re getting bigger week by week, and more comfortable too. They are no longer afraid when I come into the pen and some even come up for scratches on their backs. The colors of their spots are setting in to darker hues and they’re developing white tufts of fur on the tips of their tails.
We have new crops ready to harvest like the kohlrabi, which I hadn’t noticed growing until we went to harvest it for the first time. Now I wonder how I missed the bright, vibrant purple peeking out from under the green leaves. There are so many surprises like this at the farm. Sometimes, it’s me. Like how only one week into harvesting strawberries, I felt like I just couldn’t eat one more (this feeling has passed). Or how even though it’s my first spring on the farm, wrestling through vines and popping off peas sounds like something I’ve always known and done. Or how even after harvesting hundreds and hundreds of heads of romaine, I still smile at the smell left on my hands from the milky liquid that comes off the base. Or, thinking I was acclimated to having chronically dirty hands, I was still shocked by how hard it is to clean tomato tar from my fingertips.
And as I write this, I’m thinking of one of my favorite quotes: changes happens slowly then all at once. For me, the best part of this is that I get to remember this over and over again as I witness the change of the seasons, of the day, of the crop and of myself as part of all of it. It’s happening all the time and what a beautiful thing to notice.
Thanks to Mae Wolfe for the photos of James and Darren!