The seasons of the year can be read as an equation that comes out even in the end. Addition and subtraction. Positive and negative. Sun and shadow. Objects and their absence. We farm in the north country. Here, summer is for gaining and winter is for spending. In the summer we fill the barns with hay. As winter trundles on the bales become empty space. They disappear but they are not gone. Matter trades places with energy, which is neither created nor destroyed, but in farming, it is so beautifully transfigured: A burning star in space becomes grass becomes hay becomes the beating of a heart. It becomes milk, roots, bones, flesh. It becomes us. It becomes this thought, a spark we are sharing between us. Now.
We have house guests this week, staying on the hoosier cabinet next to the dining room table. Two flats of germinated lettuce seed, planted in blocks of last year’s potting soil. It’s not worth heating the greenhouse to keep them alive, so we’re sharing our warm space with them for now. One flat has added organic fertilizer, and the other does not. We’re using them to test the old potting soil’s fertility, and also, perhaps, our limits. How early can we use this splendid new greenhouse of ours, if the winter stays mild? Would a late January Hail Mary planting of lettuce survive? Which is another way of asking that most pressing question, how soon can we all eat fresh greens in spring? Continue reading this Essex Farm Note.