Somehow farming seems to me like running a race. I've come to recognize the different steps: the deep breath before the shot goes off, the first sprint, figuring out your pace, the long haul, the final bloody push to the finish line, and recovery, breathing normal again.
Lately I've realized there's another step before the rest. The pause before the inhalation. A moment in-between action. That's where I am now.
Funny, I'm not even much of a runner.
Anyways. This time of year is a struggle in its own way. All my fellow farmers are gearing up and getting going. I tend to start second guessing myself--wanting to leap forward before taking a breath or before the shot's gone off. "Oh shit, so-and-so already started x. Am I behind?" This is my mental refrain. But each farm and farm business is unique. Its rhythm's it's own.
I took my first and last big break before the season started 2 weeks ago. Sometimes I have to work hard to relax (yes, there is a contradiction there). But this time it came easy. I even allowed myself to be bored (scary, yes?). I took in sea smells, big green trees, and the ever playful zen of sea otters. I slept a lot. Ate a lot. Walked. Talked. Stared. It was good.
Now back home, I have made an effort not to ruin it by cramming my schedule full.
One last pause before the inhalation.
Some seedlings are already started: lisianthus, delphinium, mint, foxglove, among others. Planning is going well. Next week I start out in the greenhouse officially.
I started a book last week that started with this quote from E.B. White (of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little (and Elements of Style for all you English nerds out there):
"Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savour it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savour the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savouring must come first."
I don't know if I have ever read a quote that resonates more. Much of my life has been a bizarre struggle between wanting "to save to world" and to simply enjoy living in it. I have always been one part environmentalist, one part artist/sensualist. I have often felt these are opposing parts of myself, but reading the White quote makes me realize that each not only has it's own place, but its own time.
So right now, I have been learning to savour life.
Soon I will work on the saving.
In March and April, I will march in support of scientists and climate change issues. This season I will be embarking on becoming a citizen scientist by participating in work monitoring birds, amphibians, and pollinators in my area and on the farm. I will also be a farmer researcher, conducting both foliar spray and plant variety trials.
Its impossible to do both the saving and savouring at once or without one another. Saving without savouring leads to burn-out. Savouring without saving leads to jadedness. I truly believe we need to love the world in its beauty to give a damn about it. Flowers, landscape, animals, insects are my gateway.