For the past decade, the end of summer has always meant traveling for me. At the first hint of autumn, I would head south alongside the geese from my upstate New York homeland to arrive in time for the beginning of the school year in Atlanta. But lately, those patterns have flip-flopped. I’m finally (finally!) done with school, and as the geese are heading south, I’m northbound. And due to a variety of developments, this time I’ll be staying for a little while.
I bid a reluctant, sorrowful goodbye to the urban garden I’ve been working on for the last four years in Atlanta, and I’m trying hard not to look back, for fear of lapsing into the sorrow of nostalgia for things lost. The good news is that upon returning to my home region, I’m seeing this place with new eyes. New York State is home to the country’s largest national park, hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful lakes, vineyards, agricultural land, and an abundance of small-scale farms, especially along the Hudson Valley, just north of The Big Apple.
One of the facets of this beautiful land that I didn’t explore during earlier years is the stunning farmland in the rolling hills between the Finger Lakes. A sizeable portion of it is occupied and farmed by old-order Mennonite families, who, through the particular quirks of their religious beliefs, are living on the land much like all of our ancestors did centuries ago. Yes, (since I know you’re wondering) these are the folks whose primary mode of transport is horse and buggy, who opt for suspenders over belts, buttons over zippers, and put metal wheels on their tractors so that they aren’t used for extraneous, non-agricultural purposes. (And you’ll be hearing more about my experience with these kind folks a little later, promise!)
So here we are. The golden cornfields are shorn. It’s definitely autumn. The fall is a transitory season, a season of change. A time to tuck things into bed for a good long rest so that they can burst forth anew come spring. In the upcoming months, I’ll be exploring and sharing little sketches about this land where I came from, of course with a particular eye for gardens, growing, and positive change. I hope it captivates y’all as much as it has me this second time around.
Personally I’m looking forward to the quiet season – it gives me a chance to reflect on the past year’s garden and projects, spend a little time with the garden’s bounty in the kitchen rather than in the soil, and it also allows me to plan and prepare for the cheerful riot of spring gardening activity. I hope you’ll enjoy the next few months, as we make our way through this year’s winter passage. Grab some wool socks, a blanket and some hot tea and start enjoying the gardener’s quiet season. It certainly won’t last too long! 🙂