Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall is the season of letting go. Letting go of the garden that produced so prolifically for our table and larder, of the lambs that we struggled to save in the spring (they will be on the table soon), the grass that sustained the lambs and their mothers throughout the summer, the summer birds, and everything green in the landscape.

Fall is also the season during which we make our preparations for the winter that is to come. On these glorious Indian summer days, we are freezing and canning the last of the fruit and vegetables still in storage, cutting wood to feed the hungry wood-burning insert in the parlor, and procuring the last of the hay and straw that will provide warm bedding and feed for the sheep through the winter. The windows are caulked, the doors weatherstripped, and the basement is insulated.

Other mammals are making their preparations too. The squirrels have cached black walnuts, acorns, and hickory nuts in so many places that they won't find them all before the seeds germinate into young trees next spring. The deer are fat, the fawns are weaned, and the does and bucks are busy creating a new crop of fawns. The coyote and fox children are hunting and howling and barking like adults, although still with their parents.

Many of the summer birds have migrated, and those left behind are returning to our feeders as the abundance of summer wanes. The young hawks are hunting on their own, the young owls are hooting and calling "Who-cooks-for-you?" instead of screeching in their owlet voices.

I am in a similar season in my life. Letting go of many things, voluntarily and involuntarily, in preparation for the quiet activities of winter that bring forth the promise of spring and abundance of summer. My big worries grow small when I think about the cycle of which I am privileged to be a part and my responsibilities as steward to my self, my family, and the small holding that is Seven Sisters Farm.

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