Winter at the Farm

Winter at the Farm

How often do we take advantage of the bliss of a winter evening spent beside the friendly wood stove?

A few pleasures surpass this one.

As I write this, darkness prevails outside, as does the cold and wind.  Indoors however, the gas lantern hums cheerfully, throwing its bright rays throughout the house, spilling some out the windows, across the shadowy lawn, the pasture fence and beyond.

The almighty kitchen range purrs beside me.  With it, we heat the house, bake breads and pies, cook our vegetables, and warm our toes.  The teakettle perches on top, lisping a merry tune.  Wouldn’t a hot cupful of aromatic tea crown the triumph over the outside weather?

Hard as it may be to believe, a glance at the calendar confirms what the weather has been trying to tell us.  That the year’s end is fast approaching, that it is time to get in the firewood, that any late crops need to be gathered quickly before they freeze.

All this reminds me of a question I had as a small lad.  “Why did anyone ever place the beginning of the year squarely in the middle of the coldest, bleakest time of the year? Most certainly I would have voted its beginning to be in March when the snow melts.  Or maybe in April as the first flowers peep through, or in May when we all know that warm weather is finally here to stay.  But January??

I remember asking my mom.  She didn’t know.  Maybe she didn’t really care.  Obviously, it didn’t bother her.

After observing several more seasons run their courses, I discovered the wisdom of beginning a brand new year on January the first.  As we mentioned above, the weather has been trying to warn us of the end of a season.  The mercury has crept lower, as the sun sets earlier and rises later, (just like us!) and all around we see signs of death in the plant world.

With the arrival of January 1st, the shortest day will be behind us.  From henceforth, the days will gradually lengthen and the nights will become shorter.  Yes, we will face many more cold days and lots of ice and snow.  The tide however, will have changed.  The intensity of the sun’s rays will increase, subtly prompting spring’s birth, and summer’s warmth.

Truly, the new year will have begun.  As the days lengthen, nature will respond.  Hidden deep in their hive, the bees begin to raise a new crop of young.  (Even when the temperature drops below the single digits, they work hard to maintain 90 degrees F at the center of their cluster so their brood will survive)

And although the wind is howling outside and piling up snow, the beginning of the year is a good time to start dreaming and planning for the coming season.  We dig out the shiny new seed catalogues, and page wistfully through them.  The toil and the sweat of summer is forgotten.  We think only of bright, warm days, and lush green crops supplying us with the food we enjoy.

Dream with us!

Jason Stoll

taken from December 2010 newsletter.

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