Today, the first day of March, feels like a tipping point. It is the single day of the year when I find myself both relieved and quietly ashamed.
I am no fan of winter. The darkness plays tricks with my mood. The cold paralyzes my movements and creativity. It is temporary, I tell myself. December, January, February. I repeat this mantra and throw in the winter virtues of sitting by the fire, cooking chili in a Dutch oven, reading books.
But somewhere in that stretch of bitter short days, I lose faith. By mid-January doubt creeps in. As I walk through the woods, I begin to wonder if life will ever come back. Buds. Flowers. Insects. Life.
The shame of lost faith is especially acute these past years. After all, a farmer should fully embrace each season, the flow of nature, the necessity of rest and recovery.
Still I waver.
Fortunately, this winter has been mild. My doubts could barely be heard over the panic of early blooming tulips and hot windy afternoons. Shame was drowned out by the nagging worry of whether I appreciated the dark days enough. Did I get enough sleep, enough rest and recovery? Did I embrace every fire, pot of chili and book? Or, instead, did I close my eyes to each day and hope that when they opened again the world would be filled with buds, flowers, insects and life.
Farming has given me so many gifts. It has kept me busy in the winter months, stacking and hauling wood, keeping chicken predators at bay, fixing broken equipment, catching up with projects. But it has also helped me realize that I am not built for the existential nature of winter but instead for the fully present days of summer. Here’s to March 1st and the beginning of a new season.