Of all of my life experiences, I think farming is the most humbling of all. The summer is now petering out, despite the most recent heat wave, I believe fall is coming. I went from overwhelming abundance in July and August to relative scarcity in the last couple of weeks. Those hot summer days finally caught up to the fields--making for a huge flush of flowers and now--poof!--half of them are done.
Of course, this causes panic and anxiety. I can't continue all of my orders. I have to say no. But there are rewards. I've already started planning for 2017. I'm excited to do all the prep I couldn't last fall when I couldn't access the land. I have tempting daydreams of maybe being ahead of the curve next spring. Maybe.
I've slowed down. A bit. I think I'm working a more normal amount of hours. I feel guilty because my fellow incubator veggie farmers are really at their peak now--hustling hard through the exhaustion. Instead, I finish eating my breakfast in the van in the morning, parked in the field where I can watch my greatest entertainment of the season: the hummingbirds. Four of them chittering, diving, buzzing, bustling and once in a great while, they too sit, motionless, taking in their kingdom of flowers. Not mine. Theirs.
This is a journal post I have turned over and over in my head these past few months, trying to complete the posts I started long before this past winter about community. Because, the thing is, I really, truly see those insane, miraculous little birds as part of my community. And I want so desperately for others to see them that way too.
I realized two very important things this summer. About myself and others. And it was all because of a silly, little raccoon.
I came into the barn, sometime in July and saw this guy hanging outside my window.
At first, yes, I thought, shit, he's dead. But after I creeped up to the window, I realized, no, he's just sleeping. I watched him constantly, over the next two days as I worked. He wasn't sick. Just took a fancy to the shady, safe spot the barn offered. Then he was gone.
And I'll tell you, that silly little raccoon twisted my heart with the most intense awe and passion I felt half ridiculous.
It's not that I haven't seen them before. In Toronto, they are as common as rats or squirrels. It wasn't that it just cute. Or likely an orphan. It was that in those few days, I literally had a window into his life. I could watch, unobserved, for hours as I worked in the barn.
The greatest gift of my farming work is that everyday I get to watch. The hummingbirds whizzing by. The butterflies lilting among the flowers. The grasshoppers jumping away from me in waves. The storms rolling over the fields. The seagulls circling in the sky.
Bearing witness to nature is the greatest honor and reward in my life.
But as I realized this, I simultaneously knew, if I had different job, I would not get to experience this and maybe this is the key to the general apathy seen in the world in regards to environmental destruction. If you don't actually see and love a thing, how can you mourn its lose or better yet, fight tooth and nail to save it?
There's a quote that I love by Georgia O'Keeffe, a famous America painter who often painted huge, close ups of flowers. One day at market, I started to write it on my sign and stopped. Somehow it seems controversial, too demanding. But after this summer, I want to embrace it. I want it on the landing page of my website. I want it on my cards. Maybe I even want it tattooed on my very skin because I see now how important it is.
"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not."
So I will say please: go out into the world. Leave the sidewalk. Go into the shade of the trees. Seek out those tall grass fields. Walk with bare feet through the streams and along the shore. You must go out. We all must to really see it. Because only by seeing can we understand. And by understanding begin to love it. And by loving it, we will then, and only then, fight for their lives.