When I was in university, I started listening to Bob Dylan. Much of my early 20s was spent flying down the highway, wind in my hair, singing Dylan songs at the top of my lungs.
I thought about Dylan today as I surveyed the damage of the storm that rolled through when I was away visiting family.
My co-worker, who was at the greenhouse at the time, dealing with the insane storm called it “apocalyptic.”
I thought of “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall” as I was harvesting and wondering if my flowers were going to recover from the onslaught of rain, wind, and hail and whether it would have made a difference whether I was in town or not.
But being away shifted something in me. Spending time with family, catching up with friends, and spending some quiet time in a beautiful place gave me perspective.
Yes, the hail storm was bad, but there was nothing I could do about it. That’s farming—cultivating surrender alongside trying to keep things in hand. Sometimes there’s sun. Other times there’s clouds. Sometimes there’s lightning. Hopefully there is rain and not too much. Then sometimes there’s hail and wind. And there’s very little you can do about it.
I always though Dylan’s song was in protest of the Cold War. Listening again to it today and reading up on it, turns out it was never about nuclear war and its fall out.
"No, it's not atomic rain, it's just a hard rain. It isn't the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that's just gotta happen.”
This is what Dylan said in a radio interview in 1963. Just rain. Hard rain. And sometimes, it’s just going to fall. It may been apocalyptic in character, but really a storm is a storm. Meanwhile I was hundreds of miles away enjoying my last evening with my family, watching the sunset and my aunt and uncle dance. Sharing my love of farming with my aunt. Cultivating some peace in my harried mind.
I love my flowers, but I chose to grow them because I knew the world wouldn’t end if I didn’t get it right or if nature moved against me in its totally impersonal way. In the end, flowers are flowers—beautiful, but ephemeral. There will always be another blossom, another year to get it right, but time with those I love is precious beyond reckoning. Beautiful and necessary.