In Vermont, there is Stick Season and Mud Season. Stick Season is the undetermined time in late fall and early winter, before the snow has come but the trees are bare. Mud Season is in early spring, after most of the snow has melted, but before the world wakes up.
Typically these times, round about November and March, are the times in the North that people are desperate to rush through. They are ugly and solemn, dirty and cold. They are in-between and uncomfortable and just on the edge of what we want.
I read an excellent article last week called "The Nameless Season" by John Landretti in the March/April issue in 2016 by Orion Magazine (I'm a bit behind in my reading, ha). The article resonated because I was in that nameless season that is November and for SGG, I am halfway between the rush and activity of the farm and the quiet winter period of deep farm planning and visioning. I am not finished with the former and cannot relax into the later. My constant question: What could/should I be doing in this time?
I am wrestling/trying to relax into the in-between of this season and what I recognize, is a bigger in-between time of my business and my life. Because, I know, as Landretti points out:
"In this curious moment, this nameless season, the walls of order drift apart and more space is breathed into the world."
He goes on.
"A popular term for such evocations is liminal. You’d think the word had been around since antiquity, but it’s a recent coinage, made up about a century ago by a French writer and folklorist, Arnold van Gennep. He drew on the Latin word limen, or threshold, to signify the middle phase of a ritual, that strange moment after one has given up a familiar way of being but has not yet come into a new identity."
There is a discomfort being in-between. I think we as humans, for all our quotes of "enjoy the journey" so on and so forth, we like a destination. A resolution. Definition. We like the finality of things within our sight, not sliding around on the edge of our vision.
Right now, when people ask about SGG and how its going, I typically reply, its getting there, building steam. Farms and businesses are not built overnight, but for the first time, I can feel the momentum of it, but it's future identity is not here yet.
I am trying to take the space available in this time period to imagine what SGG can be--really. What it can mean for me, for the people I'll employ, and for my community.
But being in-between is not without its struggles. I have been taking this time to talk with others, to seek mentorship and advice. Recently another farmer said to me that my business was in a "growing pains" period. Her tone was sympathetic, but implied, your not there yet sister and this won't be easy.
I don't remember as a teenager the physical sensation of growing pains. But I remember the year I shot up about 3-4 inches and the awkwardness of a body that I did not feel ownership of, tall and long, that stumbled into things because it was unaware of its own dimensions. I spent a lot of that period trying to make myself less obvious and to cultivate some ounce of grace to make up for the uncertainty of my limbs. However, I also remember, waking in the morning and for the first time, being able to really feel life's potential--that there were things for me to see, do, and try. A teenage stage therefore is the combination of potential matched with awkwardness and uncertainty.
"As such, all things liminal seem to me inhabited by a kind of presence, one that receives us with a peculiar spirit of something like kindly ruin; we are invited into its company, even loved, yet its reception offers us no assurance that we are exempt from the frightful anonymity of its depths, which so calmly absorbs everything from mountains to stars."
It seems to me that only humans are aware of the liminal--or at least we are the only ones who are discomforted by it. Animals, plants have their yearly cycles, but their livelihood is never guaranteed, their destination always a moving target. But somehow they are able to live and find joy in that "peculiar spirit" of the unknown. That is now my goal.
A friend reminded me recently of her grandmothers famous quote: we are always becoming. Right now SGG might be in-between and experiencing growing pains. But now I can really sense the potential, just below the surface, waiting to carry this little farm business into a new identity. The trick is to make peace the uncertainty, yet still work to imagine its potential into being.