I have a fall tradition of taking a short trip with friends after the season is over. Its a tough time to go, there's still plenty to do before it gets too cold to work outside, but the timing is usually perfect for me mentally because I really need something to aim for in the last stretch of the growing season, a needed rest.
Fall is my favourite season. The temperature, smell, and colours of the landscape coupled with a hint of melancholia somehow provide the perfect mix of vigour and reflectiveness.
This year my friend and I did a bit of short road trip through New York and Massachusetts. It wasn't intentional at first, but somehow, it took the route of old, familiar pathways I traveled in my early 20s.
I spent most of my 20s caught between the desire to continually roam and the need to find a place to call home. I am restless and curious by nature. It is no surprise that farming piqued my interest when I was 22. It presented the satisfying mix of physical exercise and intellectual rigour, careful planning balanced with decision making on the fly, steady monotony paired with an ever changing environment. But at 22, the idea of finding a place to live, "settling down" and staying put to farm was terrifying. Then life and the economy took that decision out of my hands. The world markets tanked and I knew better than to try and start a farm.
Despite its impracticability, farming stayed in my mind, quiet and patient.
When I started Sweet Gale Gardens, I was even less sure of my decision. I kept the back door open, always, in case I had made a mistake and had to make a run for it. I was frustrating mix of apologetic and defensive of my choice.
Then a year and half ago I moved to Hamilton and started at my current farm lease. I told myself this was either going to work or I was going to move on to something else. I saw it as a test my business and I would either pass or fail.
But as I worked, I gave the farm my time and attention. Through the slow, patient work that is observing and working with nature, my perspective shifted. As time went on, it seemed less important to come to conclusions as it did to keep thinking and asking questions. Not as exciting to think about what was coming next compared to what was happening now.
I have thought a lot about the word "settle"--fearing its permanence yet knowing I needed some of its stability. I found it comforting to see that "settle", yes, in its more modern context, has more of connotation of conclusion. But its root meaning is simple: "a place to sit." That I can handle. Because after this past week of walking in my old footsteps, its easy to see how I will never arrive; I will not come to a resolution; there will be always more questions than answers and there is always more pathways to walk, planting to do and sentences to write. Its ok to stop and rest a while. The door is still open to the world outside, the breeze coming in. This chair is soft, my body comfortable, my mind at ease.