By Garth Brown
The farm has a particular character as winter settles in, with smoke blue clouds and purple forests set off by snow so bright it looks like more light is coming from the ground than the sky. It hasn’t been particularly cold, and the stream is free of ice and flowing well. Crows hop about out in the pasture, busily finding food of some sort when they aren’t cawing and flapping in circles around each other.
Yesterday Alanna was ordering raspberry plants for the spring (get them now if you plan on it, we hear they’re going fast!) and she pointed out that one of the best parts about a farm is the way it encourages an awareness of the whole year. Both the weather of each day and the larger season play a role in what work gets done, but there is also a need to reflect on the year to come; the seed catalogues have already arrived and Ed is readying the hoophouse for a new round of piglets.
Of course we all know that the days will get longer and spring will come. But making concrete plans for a different future brings its reality home in a way that mere rational assent to a proposition that times will indeed change cannot. Planning a garden, planning grazing, planning for construction and maintenance brings some part of the warmth and light of spring into the cold and darkness of winter.
I write this in response to my impulse to say something definitive about 2020 as it draws to a close, an impulse that I suspect many people share. As much as I feel like I should have some profound insight to add to the mountain of profound insights that inevitably crop up as one year turns into another (and this year, for obvious reasons, will likely set a record) I find my mind singularly empty. Any summary I might write would simply distract from people who actually have something to say.
So instead of inventing a lengthy rumination on what the past twelve months mean in the final analysis, I offer this as a brief, anti-thinkpiece. While there are lessons and tragedies and even silver linings that a careful examination of 2020 can and should reveal, it is singularly salutary to not only hope but also to plan for happier days to come.
With that I will wish each of you a safe, happy, and joyful 2021.