Winter Solstice

From out of the darkness and cold, the light...and hope return. -Unknown

Winter is here. I always find it a bit confusing to reconcile the fact that the solstice opens a new season with a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Our second day of winter is unfolding with a quiet and peaceful snowfall as we brace ourselves for the unknown days of winter weather ahead. Yet, at the same time, the sunlight will be creeping in, slowly lengthening our days until we find ourselves at the dewy threshold of spring. Just as summer welcomes us with a warm breeze and we relax into the sun’s embrace, the solstice will once again remind us that as a new season of warmth unfolds, the light will be waning little by little.

I think we tend to picture change as a homogeneous process of gradual movement in one direction, but the reality is really quite different. Change is so often a complex and layered evolution of movement in many directions at once. While the daylight swims upstream through the current of winter, I wonder if it might be nature’s way of giving a nod to the farmers who must also practice a mindful incongruence with the season - planning for summer while trekking through winter, each season demanding attention before the last has finished its business.

While the non-farmers among us may be sledding and skiing and cozying up by the fire, it is the farmers who will toil with ice where water is needed, who will brace against the frigid wind to provide food, water, and warm shelter to the animals who sustain us all. In between the constant demands that are necessary for winter survival, farmers will be selecting seeds and making decisions about varieties of crops for the summer. They’ll be planning how the abundance of milk will be used once the grass is lush and green, predicting what the markets will demand and how to keep customers happy. I’ve had only a small taste of winter farming, but from that experience, I’ve come to believe that these necessary bits of tending to summer during winter probably are what helps keep the farmer moving forward day to day. It is in this space that I am reminded that things are not always what they seem, that time is fluid, and that perhaps we are all living a little bit of everything all at once.

Fittingly, it is through this recognition that CSA programs were born -- as a means of providing farmers with funds to buy seeds and supplies when they’re needed most -- a season or two before those seeds and supplies will bring to fruition products that generate income. It’s not only a practical innovation, it’s also a beautiful practice of trust, faith, and goodwill between farmer and customer; a recognition of the interdependence of the many critical factors hanging in the tenuous balance that is farming.  

In these coming days of both increasing cold and increasing sunlight, we invite you to join us in awe and appreciation of the complexities of nature and time.

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. -Albert Camus