Yesterday I went into work for a few hours on my usual day off to help commence the hauling out of our storage potato crop. These thousands of pounds of potatoes will keep in our cooler to be distributed to the masses, hopefully until we can start growing them again. After their long winter’s rest.
It’s coming. Still weeks from the equinox and official start of autumn, and I am catching myself noticing with thanks the warm evening breeze on my bare legs. Too many times, I’ve found myself deep in the throes of our New England winters, trying to find a solitary memory of the preceding summer. But those memories were all wishes for the season to be cooler, more temperate. Pleas for sweater weather. I’ve learned. You can’t wish for the fall, without inviting the ice.
Potatoes are only the beginning. If I had to take a guess at numbers, I’d say in the next two months, we’ll be harvesting over 50,000 tons of winter squash, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, celeriac, rutabagas, parsnips, kohlrabi, cabbage . . . and potatoes
Then we’ll put our weary loam to rest, tucking it in with covers of oat, rye and hairy vetch. Readying it for blankets of winter white cotton-ball snow. I like the thought of a slow, rhythmic heaving of breath as the earth gets her well-earned slumber.
And what about us. Do we get our rest? The mammal human engages in a curious rest cycle. Though we store and slow as the days get shorter, most of our daily routines change very little. Our alarms still go off at the same time, even as the sun sleeps later and later. Our vacation time was largely spent on sandy shores and in shaded woods. We spend more time in the kitchen, sorting through pie and roast recipes. But rest. Where is that important space where we gather, like legumes pulling nitrogen from the air, those essential elements to till back into our conscience.
I’ve been waiting for it to be handed over, wrapped in old newspaper and twine. And maybe still it will show up like that, one morning on my doorstep, on a thin coat of snow. But maybe it is more like the five dollars you find in the pocket of your winter coat. Maybe it’s finally being able to have over-easy eggs again, because there’s enough time that you don’t have to take your breakfast to go. Or maybe it’s just being okay with the yolk dripping down your wrist.