I don’t like the cold. Thus, I tend to have very harsh feelings about winter, especially the whole working outside in the cold part of winter. But as with everything, there’s a silver lining. Local food may be harder won in the winter, but it’s also sweeter. I won’t bore you with the science of cold temperatures on the natural sugars in veggies, but the resulting effect on the taste buds is sensational.
I’m sure this can be a metaphor: harder won things are worth working harder to win them? Perhaps (although don’t ask Mallory, who had to take two consecutive hot showers last week to warm up). All I know is that ever since we made the decision to keep growing food through the winter, my taste buds have warmed me up to the idea. I say this, of course, as I sit inside my, um, “corner office” (which is actually a closet) inside a heated and insulated house. So there’s that. But the sun is out, there are still some gorgeous leaves on the trees, and we're setting up a temporary winter produce wash station in the heated greenhouse and, well, I'm headed south for a bit.
The first heavy (“killing”) frost, no matter when it arrives, is the harbinger of our annual semi-retirement. This used to mean switching gears from farmer to pickleball playing, gym going, yoga class attending, playing at city folk. More recently, however, we’ve discovered the power of credit card miles and have been exploring realms further south. And we’ve got these young whipper snappers here that want to keep growing in the winter!
So the first heavy frost, which didn’t arrive until late last week, now means a sudden scrambling to get all the soil testing done, crop analysis and next year’s crop planning completed, seeds ordered, structures winterized, pack shed moved to heated space, and fields turned to cover crops, and make sure all our inside beds are filled for winter production. Gone is the downshifting, the sleeping in, the slow progression toward hibernation. Instead, this fall frenzy of activity.
At least mother nature was sympathetic this season. She swooped in, froze everything, then left to give us a gorgeous week of t-shirts and azure skies—a little breathing room to work long days to get everything accomplished before the cold returns for real.
Sometimes you just have to put everything aside revel in the joy and laughter of each other’s creativity and silliness. Sometimes, you just have to play. I find Halloween to be the perfect time to do this. It’s a celebration of each other, of levity, and of the slowing down of life (where we can actually concentrate on pulling off a fantastic party).
We can so easily become bogged down beneath the burdens of responsibility and obstacles etc. ad infinitum that we forget how to crawl out from underneath and breathe. So setting aside an official time to do so, say, for example, Halloween, is actually an important life task, see? Now I don’t really care about the history or the meaning or the evolution of the “holiday” of Halloween, I’m only interested in some set moment in time to clamber out from under the weight of the world and giggle. Or even guffaw. Because we all deserve a guffaw.