It’s quiet this morning on the farm. Once the indoor animals were fed, everything was unusually silent in the house. The only sound in the house right now is the coffee pot brewing my early morning cup. Outdoors, in addition to being unseasonably cool, it is also quiet. The barn swallows, the last heralds of spring, have left to begin their thousand mile journey south. There have been flocks of blackbirds gathering for their fall exodus, and the goldenrods are in full bloom in the meadows. To me, goldenrods are the aroma of autumn. Even some of the trees have started to turn colors slightly, an unusual development for August. It seems that nature is battening down the hatches, preparing for the season ahead.
The world around us is cyclical, and if we pay close attention, we will discover that we too are living within these cycles. Cultural holidays and activities flow with the cycle of the seasons. This upcoming weekend, many will celebrate the Labor Day holiday while enjoying the long weekend. Typically, this weekend signifies the end of summer, even if the weather cooperates for a few more weeks. Most schools and colleges will be back in session by next week, and we will proceed with our lives soon forgetting the quiet summer evenings on our porches where we listened to the world pass.
On the farm,our tasks are changing. The mold of the season was cast months ago for us, and we are beginning late summer preparations. As we harvest each of our remaining crops, we will begin to prepare our fields for next season by clearing out the crop debris and planting fall cover crops to maintain our soil structure. Also, we begin to clear out our irrigation lines in the fields and storing them for another season. Lastly, we will begin to convert some of our greenhouses for winter crops, usually winter hardy greens and plant any crops that overwinter, like garlic and wheat.
While we do that, the world around us also changes. The sun rises later and sets sooner now, as it slowly migrates south, or more accurately, the earth’s axial tilt is tilting our hemisphere away from the sun in this part of our orbit. The fawns of this season are now eating voraciously, storing fat for the upcoming winter. That is the strategy of all who choose to stay for the winter. Plants and animals that stay are storing as much energy as they can for the upcoming winter. They will live off of the reserves. Some will remain active and others will remain dormant or hibernate. All others will either die or leave. Since we are one of those who stay, we prepare.
We will freeze, dry, and can food over the next few weeks to ensure that we have winter vegetables to eat. When we do, I intimately realize that I am connected to the world around me. I am reminded that I am in the web of life. I live on a plant-based diet, but the plants that I eat require an entire ecosystem of fungi, bacteria, arthropods, and vertebrates to exist. My life is tied to all other life around me. I am not isolated. No one is. If all life is connected, then harm to one part of the system will ripple throughout the system. I think of that as I drink my coffee this morning, and I wonder how my actions have harmed or helped the world in which I find myself. I realize that I have choices, and that I can choose everyday. So, today, while synchronizing my activities of autumn preparation with the rest of the natural world, I will actively choose actions that have the best chance of positively impacting the world in which I live. I stand up to face the challenges ahead of me today, and in that action, the morning silence is broken.