It is a beautiful day on the farm today. 74 and sunny. There has been a breeze throughout the day, enough to keep any flies down and more importantly to make working outside enjoyable. We have had to take to closing our windows most nights recently, a sure sign that the first frost is not far away, and a marked departure from last year. With the return of fall, I look back wistfully at the seasons that came before and the things I have not accomplished.
Last year at this time our house was not a home. It was a skeleton. The building site had been cleared and the trees dumped in the clearing. I promised the contractor I would get to the trees later and clear them up. A year later and they are still there. They have settled a little but still loom large in my life.
Last year we hastily brought wood in when autumn turned towards winter. We stacked what we needed with the help of an amazing friend and put the rest under a tarp. That was a project we would surely get to when the weather was warmer. This year, I decided the remnants of the previously stacked wood were too far from the house so I unstacked what we did not burn last year, moved the pallets closer to the house (it will save me 15 steps on the treacherous ice and remove some of the winter shoveling). It appears to be a good idea and I am pleased with my embrace of Yankee economy, however, the other wood is still piled under the tarp.
Last year, we headed into fall with two beehives. We planned on adding to our apiary in the spring. If one hive survived we could have split it potentially and we could afford to buy two more packages in the spring. We pulled a little honey off of one before it succumbed to mites. The other was still going strong into March, but when we checked them in April we found a cluster of bees frozen beneath their stores of honey. Not much you could do about the second death, but the first one was on us. We didn’t treat them all year and knew that it was a chance we were taking. We had to buy two new packages of bees and couldn’t expand the apiary because of it.
It is easy to reflect back on the past year and see all of the things we haven’t done, all the places we have failed. We lose sight of what we have done. We moved into the house. We got a new dog. We built a chicken coop and filled it with chickens (any day now they will start laying). We filled the freezer. More importantly, we have persevered. We have pushed on through the setbacks we have had. Of course it can be frustrating- it is frustrating.
This month, I turn forty and enter the autumn of my life. By Maine standards, I am a young man, however, my body is beginning to let me know that I am not. I cannot do the manual labor I once could without paying the price for it a day later. I look back at my life and see the broken promises. I see the unfulfilled plans. I see the things and people I have lost. I sometimes lose sight of what I have done. I have moved to the most beautiful place on the face of the earth. I have surrounded myself with amazing friends who will help me stack woods on freezing days. I have a community that I love and care for. I have the greatest partner anyone could ever have in my wife. I might not ever finish my novel. My homestead may never look like I want it to. I might not see and do all the things I want to do in this life. Despite that, my life is good- how could I ever hope for more?