seasons as I know them
and why winter is my beloved grandpa
Before I get to my latest offering, I must thank all of you that have chosen a payment option in your subscription. I was in tears when the emails started coming in from Substack, informing me that so many of you think that what I offer is of enough value that you would return an offering of your own. I have been shy to bring my writing to a place where I open myself up to receiving anything for it. It seems too vulnerable, maybe. But the world has changed and our place in it is requiring more of me. I have dusted off my copy of “Sacred Economics” and read it for a second time (by Charles Eisenstein - a must read, especially for the time we find ourselves in) and I realise that there is a way to build connection through the exchange of money. I know I like to support my local economy, the artisans and small local businesses around me. As Charles says in his book, and I’m paraphrasing here, money is the token of what would be, in a community long ago, an exchange or a symbol of appreciation. That feels authentic to me. I like it. I’m going with it. Thank you, to all who chose to offer me a symbol of your appreciation and for your belief that what I share is of value. What a beautiful affirmation of my efforts. With love and gratitude, Tara ❤️
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I will include this little blurb in my next few newsletters and then, assuming all that subscribe have already seen it, I will stop. But for now: At the urging of some people that I respect and at the behest of the ever-evolving situation we find ourselves in, I’ve made the decision to open up my subscription to a paid or free option. If you have the means and the desire to support my writing, you can click on the subscription button and go for a paid option. If not, for either category, just stick with the free version. They’re both the same content, either way. Should I ever move towards adding content only available to paid subscribers, I will let you all know first and I will always make everything I offer free to anyone that needs it to be so. No questions asked. Ever.
Autumn has arrived and with her, all of the smells and sounds of her past incarnations. The geese honk out their farewells and suddenly I am a little girl again, at the very top of an enormous white pine tree I used to favour in my climbing adventures, waving goodbye. That particular shade of beige of a fading plant and I am back in the swaying wheat fields I made beds in as a child. A whole ocean of bowing wheat heads, swaying under the prairie current and I, the little lost rowboat in the middle of it all. This fall morning, I pull out my old wool jacket and hat. It’s been months since I’ve seen either, both confirm that Summer has gone. As much as I love Summer (I must admit, it’s hard not to throw ourselves into her contagious enthusiasm) by the time she retreats, we are happy to see the tail end of her.
There is a difference between Farm Summer and City Summer. City Summer is all footloose and fancy free. She beckons summer dresses and shorts with sandals to outdoor patios and backyard barbecues. Farm Summer may be her identical twin in looks, but their personalities couldn’t be more different. Farm Summer tries to be a little more fun, a little more like her sister and a little less about business, but farmers can see right through her. They know that when she says, “Ok, time to have some fun around here!” what she really means is ‘you go have some fun and I will hold all of these tasks here for you, exponentially increasing them until you return’. She’s a bit passive/aggressive that way. But we can’t begrudge her tenacity. Farm Summer really is all that, fully in herself. She is hot and tumultuous, explosive and fiery.
In our locale, Farm Summer refuses to cool things down, even just a little in the evenings. “I am Summer!” she says with offence. “If you want cool evenings, go talk to Autumn!” Summer is energetic and insistent, she collects all living things into her lasso of bursting energy. It’s hard for a mortal human or two to keep up with her on a farm. Everything grows faster than a farmer can match. Everything needs more attention than a farmer can dedicate. Summer insists that the farmer greet her cows every morning to move them to fresh pastures, keep ahead of all of the weeds, be there to grow and cut and pick and pull. Summer dries when she dries and pours when she wants to pour. The babies of all creatures are at her mercy. Berries burst, plants explode, bugs feed, humans and animals gorge. Summer is abundance and we humans the grateful participants and recipients of her bounty.
Farm Summer teaches us humility most of all. Our gusto can never match hers. Our efforts fall short. Farm Summer insists we try anyways and aim our sights away from what could be to what is. “Count your blessings” she says with a laugh.
Unlike Summer, her predecessor, Spring, starts off as the shy gal in the corner. She likes to watch things for a bit. She might roll out some soft, sweet winds, drip a few icicles here and there, but she’s tentative, careful even. But once she gets her bearings, loosens up a little, she is mighty. Winter doesn’t stand a chance. She is liquid that whispers “wake up” and all of the world around her does. Life cannot resist Spring’s enthusiasm. Her endless evening serenades from thawing frogs and overhead parades of honking geese announcing their arrivals pull us all into her vortex. Spring calls in the birds and the seeds, she jostles the sleep from hibernating eyes, thickens tree buds until they can take no more and must burst and unfold under her glowing sun. Spring kisses winter on the forehead with her sun soaked lips and, as Winter is beholden to do by his very nature, he melts. Spring is simply irresistible. Farm Spring, the most irresistible of all.
If Summer is having an especially good year, she sometimes lingers a little too long. The farmer, exhausted by a busy season and the energy-sapping heat of her must still rally for the harvest of all that has grown. Autumn announces that harvest, points to the desiccated crops and the fattened animals and says, ‘Hurry now, I know you are tired, but there’s still so much to do. I can’t hold Winter back much longer.” There is a slowing that Autumn brings in on her winds. A lull for Winter’s coming lullaby. Just a taste, a sprinkle. A cup of chamomile tea when what you think you need is black coffee. Autumn holds Summer’s hand just long enough to let the farmer finish what must be done knowing it will never be done. Autumn is the bridge between life’s exploding landscape and the silencing of it all. The birds gather and leave. The plants fall to the ground. “Godspeed,” says Autumn “until we meet again.” And just like that, she is gone.
There is a race between Farm Winter’s arrival and the very last of the harvesting that must be done to keep the farmers and those they feed fed until the next year’s harvest begins again. Farm Winter is a no-nonsense season. It will arrive and when it does, it is here. If you are not done, if the tasks remain, Winter says, “too bad, so sad”. That’s that. Tough love. He is a gentleman, yes, and he bears beautiful, wondrous gifts. He is still and quiet, but he is also flurry and blizzards and ice encrusted everything. He reminds us to be slow, to pull out the wool and the candles, to bubble long braises on the wood stove. Winter’s blanket weighs down the frenetic and slows down the pace. Everything is forced into submission - sound, light, limbs. Cold thickens and tightens. Farm Winter says, “Time to stop. There is fire and layers for warmth. There is sparkling snow to lie on under my blinding sun. There is ice to glide over and feasts to feast on in the cocoon of your home. Just be here with me. Relish the bounty of your efforts.”
I can see Winter now, sometimes, lurking behind the trees or tinting the blue of the sky with his preferred blues. I can hear his smooth, calming voice, reassuring life that it’s time to let go. His quiet chant of “surrender” has begun, just a whisper now, but soon enough it will be a roar. For now, Autumn holds on, offering us a few more days. What will come to be the comforts of Winter, even with the challenges his frigid temperatures bring, is not here quite yet. We are still rushing, condensed and condemned to that which must be done. There will be time for Winter because he will take no other answer, but for now we need just a little bit longer. “A few more days, just a few more” is the lament of the wilting farmer.
Eventually, Old Man Winter, sitting on his worn leather chair, cloaked in a tweed smoking jacket, puffing on his pipe with patience, will get fed up. He will rise to his full height, glower down at us and proclaim it the end. “ENOUGH!”
What can we do about that? Nothing at all. And it’s in that surrender that we find a little salvation until Spring tiptoes in again.