Cycles, Man. *Snap Snap*

Hello Farmgirl Friends,

Autumn is taking its last breaths up here in the Alaskan north.  The last three mornings have revealed frost on all surfaces–a frost that persists during the day if it never sees the sun.  Trees are bare, birds are fattening up and quarreling at the feeder; sleeping in is becoming easier and easier as the sun rises later and later, day after day.

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it's a great time of the year to sit on a stoop and warm up in the low hanging sunshine.

it’s a great time of the year to sit on a stoop and warm up in the low hanging sunshine.

There is a certain poeticism that comes with the end of autumn.  I was working with my co-worker, Erin, today.  We unstrung the once verdant cucumber vines and removed their crumbling corpses from the high tunnel and moved on to the tomatoes, still heavy with plenty of too-green tomatoes that didn’t stand a chance to ripen up, even off the vine.  In the morning they were hard little frozen marbles, but by the time we got to them they had turned to mush in the warmth of the sun.  The smell was sickly sweet and slightly fermented–not the lovely, summery, particular smell of a fresh, healthy, tomato plant. She remarked something along the lines of, “We love the fall, but I find it strange that we see beauty in things that are essentially dying and rotting away…”

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She reminded me of a Mary Oliver poem I had read this morning before starting the day.

Lines Written In The Days of Growing Darkness ~Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the 
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say 
it’s easy, but 
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world 
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Crisp view of a hay field getting ready for winter.

Crisp view of a hay field getting ready for winter. Photo by Evan Wilder

Reading this lovely poem this morning reminded me of a poem I had written a couple weeks ago after an attempted walk on the overgrown path in my backyard:

Backyard Path, 2017

I walked on our path the other day.
So overgrown,
I had to bring tools
to tame the brush.

Fireweed, seven feet tall.
Aging nettles stung my hands and legs.
Cow parsnip, broken, filling the air, pungent.

The leaves have browned and goldened,
senescing with the autumn sun.
Gusts of glacial wind scattering them
and thinning the understory,
the canopy.

Revealing the narrow path
once buried in neglect.

Next year, path, next year
you will be traversed
and tamed again.

'Tis the season for gloves while walking our favorite trails!

‘Tis the season for gloves while walking our favorite trails! Photo by Evan

So, Mary Oliver’s poem is much more subtle and much better crafted than mine.  But hey! She’s a professional, seasoned poet.  I do what I can and what comes to me in those rare moments of inspiration.  Yet, there is a salient theme that comes through these poems and interactions–death and dying reveal potential.  There is beauty in knowing that what was will be a harbinger of what will be.  And there is beauty in the passing of bounty.  When the leaves fall, when the fields are cleared, when the starkness of bare trees allows the sunlight to pour through–we see what we didn’t realize we were missing!  Everything is laid bare and vulnerable as the privacy of the summer cover blows away (quite literally!).

Your private back yard isn't so private anymore naked baby!  And isn't it cold?

Your private back yard isn’t so private anymore naked baby! And isn’t it cold?

Almost every farmer or other worker of the land that I know is a poet or writer of some sort. Even in prose, many of the land bound people I know have a certain poeticism in their words.  Poetry and farming seem to go together.  In farming there is poetry in planting seeds that will become something much more, in noting how the realms of nature and humanity both work together and combat one another.  Conversely, in poetry there is, in a way, farming.  The poet tends each word and line in a specific way.  How much space does this line need? Shall I use enjambment into the next verse?  What is the best word or phrase to use in this place or time?  After writing and waiting and watching a poem, are the results what I had planned and hoped for?  Or has something fallen short or gone beyond expectation?

I mean, how can one not be inspired by this silly kohlrabi?

I mean, how can one not be inspired by this silly kohlrabi?

Anyway, fall has always brought out the poet in me.  There’s something about fallen leaves swirling around the trunks of bare trees that I feel must be recorded!  It is convenient that this coincides with the winding down of the farming season, otherwise I would tell myself that I’d write it later…later…later…until the spark is lost!

One of nature's purest forms of poetry, beauty after the rain.

One of nature’s purest forms of poetry, beauty after the rain.

Who has time to write when there are GIANT cabbages to harvest?

Who has time to write when there are GIANT cabbages to harvest?

Lost in the carrots of our lives!  Haha, but really.  This has been the autumn of carrots.  We have harvested no less than three THOUSAND pounds of carrots in the last two and a half weeks. Oofda. That’s a lot of carrot soup…and carrot cake…and canned carrots and frozen carrots and storage carrots and…animal fodder.

A very small sampling of the endless carrots.

A very small sampling of the endless carrots.

Golden hour carrots

Golden hour carrots

Next time I write I hope we have some snow!  Looking forward to a nice, white winter to share with the kids.  Time to get the skis and snow boots out, find matching mittens (or at least roughly the same size), and dig out some shovels.  I think it’s going to be a good one!

Until next time, Farmgirls

Sending you Peace and Love from Alaska,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

It was Moki's 5th birthday on Oct. 1.  Isn't she a looker? Happy Birthday Mokster! Photo by Evan

It was Moki’s 5th birthday on Oct. 1. Isn’t she a looker? Happy Birthday Mokster! Photo by Evan

Leave a comment 17 Comments

  1. Laurel Pries says:

    Love your posts and pictures from a Great Great Grandma in Washington state…..Happy Fall!!

  2. MS Barb says:

    I really enjoyed reading your blog! Thank you for sharing beautiful pictures along w/ a well written article! What will you do w/ all of your cabbage? Do you make freezer coleslaw? soups? Thanks again!

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Barb! I probably won’t take much of the cabbage. I’ve never utilized cabbage much in my cooking, but I’ll use it for some slaw or soups or stir fry. It would be great to make saurkraut some day…but I’d need to dedicate myself to actually eating it! I’m terrible at eating fermented foods regularly.

  3. Krista says:

    That’s a lot of carrots and they sure look amazing and delicious! Something went wrong with my carrots this year and they didn’t make it. Luckily, my father-in-law shared some of his with us. I love the feeling of fall in the air and watching all the leaves change. But I am not quite ready for snow yet. Hopefully you have some snow by the next time we hear from you. Happy birthday to your sweet Moki.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks, Krista! It is A LOT of carrots! If you were closer I’d know just where to point you for some carrots :). Our cool early summer and warmer later season left us with a late first harvest of them and subsequently too much after everything else was done! There is ample snow in the mountains so hopefully we can go play in it this coming weekend.

  4. Janice atkinson says:

    Love your posts. Made me chilly. It is 75 today in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Va. but I am outside to the yard work. I will think of you and frosty days while I work in this strangely warm weather.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thanks! It was an abnormally warm fall here, as well. It just started to really get chilly this last week. It actually snowed the other day…it wouldn’t even count as a dusting, but it was exciting!

  5. Joan says:

    Love your posting and my goodness your pictures make want to make a visit! Thanks for sharing in such a wonderful way. God bless.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Enjoyed this latest post. You have beautiful scenery to admire. Lovely place.
    Marilyn

  7. Amanda says:

    The walks you take there look strangely like the trails my family and I walk- but we live in PA!! I admit I love the smell of the fall air,too. Such beautiful produce! We had a wet summer here with many storms dumping at least 2 or 3 inches of rain at a time so we had many problems in our garden… and fields… and barns… so I’ll just admire your bounty! Here’s my favorite poem for fall and the end of the gardening season: I loved my garden, so here is my sad ballad:I nurtured it for months and ate it in one salad.-by Arnold Zarett

  8. Joy Pascarella says:

    Here in New York near the Great Lakes we are hanging on to summer a bit too long. But it won’t be long before the frost sticks to the ground except where the sun finds it and melts the grass. I love your poem also. I always read your blogs, keep up the good work.

  9. Sandi King says:

    Happy Belated birthday Moki; Love his picture, beautiful dog. Alex, winter is coming, but slowly – we have some cool days now colder nights but still not the cold we used to have at this time of year. Weeds are dying YEA! Soon will dig up bulbs and transplant to new beds in new yard. May be able to move before Thanksgiving – Hope so! Or at least soon after. Love the poems, all of them. Used to write a few myself. Yes, snow for your next post. Loved the pictures too. Until next time,

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