The plane drifted in its slow-motion descent, but once we’d touched down, I moved even slower. Making way through the small modern airport, I glanced up in time to notice what seemed to be old-world wooden accents. A man, his daughter and their dog greeted me from the luggage bay. I collected my belongings and we walked out into the first piece of Alaska I’d ever know- a parking lot.
The first thing noticed was the sheer number of Subarus and Toyotas, as well as bumper stickers to match. They looked like they’d been places; as if they’d seen more than asphalt and tar. The second thing noticed was the light. It was eleven P.M. The air was heavy and sky was shaded deeply, but it was certainly still awake. It seemed to me a junction between two states, and I had to ask whether the sun was about to set or about to rise.
It hadn’t yet set. In fact, nearly a month and a half later I have yet to see the night sky. But I hear it comes. I hear it comes with a seeming permanence, and brings with it a halt to the summer rush. I hear folks spend more time inside, Blaze Kings ® blaze longer, books grow thicker, and skis and dogs, sometimes together, fly trails like you can only imagine. The time is full, but its fullness is of a different sort than that of the summer. It almost sounds to me like a time of rest. Fallow, if you will.
Over the winter, Calypso’s soils seem to be dormant. This period allows for future vitality. Things are going on, however. It’s more than inaction. This distinction is patterned in the pace of some of our activities here in the Farmer Training Program, while others mimic a different pace. We can be found working our hands into soil, reflecting on readings, tearing down trees, building up buildings, etc. There is time alone, and there are times of community. Some moments are frenzied, others are meditative. The sun heats. The cold bites. And, as with the plants that thrive in the fields after having been hardened by their intentional removal from the singular set of greenhouse conditions that they’ve known, we’re bettered by the contrasts.
This evening, most of us have returned to our respective abodes. Solstice comes in two weeks, and with it slowly will come darker nights. Rain falls and dings on the roof- a living stillness. I rest my head on my pillow and am drawn to think about what comes next. What will June of next year look like? I have to remind myself, though, that I’m here now, and here for a reason, and when I’m there, I’ll be there for a reason.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
Thirteen Stars on an Ink-Smudged Page (June 19th, 2015)
Last night I wrote down thirteen bulleted phrases. It was my weekend to do list.
This morning, however, I heard from a friend, and her words prompted me to add one more. Albeit more a reminder than task, at the very top the words were added, “Everything in Light of What’s Most Important”. With that in mind, the list read much differently.
Some tasks were removed in total. Others were reworked and reoriented. Without exception, all were put into perspective.
Part of the Farmer Training Program consists of a Whole Farm Planning exercise. Throughout this process, we’ve been encouraged to think not only about potential production methods, farm locations, and resources that might be available, but also about bigger questions.
These bigger questions, ranging from visions of what a better world might look like, to unique aspirations within one’s own individual life, have the effect of reorienting our specific farming ideas to deeper drives and currents that are easy to lose track of in what can be busy, tumultuous times.
Beyond that, I myself am thankful simply for the space to work out those ideas. Taking the time to reflect on not just what one can and might do, but why one might do so has the possibility of not only affecting future choices and actions, or even the decisions of that very day, but the lens that one sees the world with that very moment, or so I’ve found.
I’ve found a lot of things on this farm and amongst our community to be very humbling. So much to learn. So much to do. This reminder, intentionally worked into our curriculum, has served, possibly beyond its intended use, to put myriad ideas, opportunities and convictions in the right place. For me, a restless one, this is important. Less frantic action, more moving forward. Aiming not only to do things, and not only to do things well, but aiming instead to do the right things well.