Saturday, March 13, 2010

i have a confession to make

When I come inside from morning chores, and I crave iced coffee instead of stove hot—I know spring is here. These past few days have been balmy, muddy, and wet. The trees are barren. The sky is gray. The ground is brown as a paper bag stuck under a tire well. Outside the snow that remains lives in little angry islands covered in dirt and dog piss. It's not pretty out there, that's for sure.

Listen, I have a confession to make. It may shock you. I hate spring.

I know, I know... Homesteaders, gardeners, shepherds, and farmers alike should be over the moon that winter is finally over, but I can't stand spring. The whole season makes me edgy and miserable. When it kicks into high gear (April being the worst) I just put on my running shoes and jog through it, hoping the whole month is washed away in sweat and miles.

I find the whole season creepy. People are so wrapped up in the abundance of new life they forget how short life really is. Folks turn into distracted avatars of their old selves, more engaged in riding mowers and patio furniture than each other. And why be grateful for life when there is so much of it around you? It's like saying grace is a grocery store. Our guards are down and our hope is replaced by expectations. It's too much. It seems a gluttony.

Now, all that said, there is a side of spring I adore. I am excited about the farm work, and everything falls out of my head but that addiction. I can plant any size garden I can muster. I can fill my coops with new chicks and poults. I can arrange for lambs and kids and god knows what else. The place is thriving with life and I am the queen of my own empire. It goes to my head! Grass starts to turn green and leaves bud on the trees and before you know it I am surrounded by so much creation I am drunk on it. I too think this bursting of life is the new normal. I sit on my laurels and breath it in and feel like I will live forever.

However, I am not the type of person made happy by immortality. Like too much money, too much life corrupts. In April I forget I'm a dying animal. It turns me into a distracted, selfish, person. I get annoyed standing in lines, and let small things upset me. I snap at friends and loved ones, assuming I can apologize later. I get materialistic, wanting seeds and fences and new clothes and tools. I am so wrapped up in the possibilities I forget the probabilities. I don't like the immortal me. I start living like a person with a lot of time on her hands. It's the worst way to be.

I know my dislike of spring has a lot to do with my love of fall. I'm never farther away from holy October than I am in the bacchanal of April. Some would say that perception is wrong, that harvest months are the time of celebration and abundance, but that's not really true. At least, not to me. With the somber holidays of Autumn, I are reminded about my mortality, but not in a bad way. Halloween makes me feel so ridicuoulsy alive. So grateful to be among the living I shake. I am at my knees in appreciation for the life I have and reverence for those I lost. You don't get that in April. You get mud.

October, god bless it. If you live like I do you know that autumn is the real show, the real time to relax and reflect. The work is done and set aside. The days are shorter and darker, but to make up for it the sunsets are five-alarm fires. The trees around here burst into fireworks too, making the whole northeast into this gorgeous land of orange, yellow, and red. The whole season looks like a sunset, and one you can stretch and feel your thinning ribs from the hard work you put into your life. You smile, and lay back onto a wool blanket under an oak and know it.

You spent months working and now the whole season celebrates with you. Like you, it's all going to die soon, but not at the moment. When you are on your back under a blazing fall oak—you are both so alive. Soon that tree with be barren, and soon I'll be buried under one, but for the time being we are both here and have a little time to make music, or children, or stories, or love. That understanding softens me. It makes me appreciate long lines as a chance to gather thoughts. I listen instead of waiting to talk. I am kinder, happier, and aged a lifetime by my sping animals and summer gardens.

I don't trust people who are ignore the grace of fall. They're worst than dog haters. At least hate usually has a motive, ignorance is just a pain in the ass.

7 months, and counting.


Blogger Sarah said...

Well said, Jenna!

Question:"7 months and counting"?? You don't have to wait seven months for your new place, do you??? That would be sheer torture!

March 13, 2010 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

No, till October.

The new farm should be mine by mid-April, I hope.

March 13, 2010 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Very interesting mindset and food for thought for me. This is not me fussing at you by any means, but not at all what I was expecting the day after such good news came your way. Happy Saturday!

March 13, 2010 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

I have always loved fall the best and a lot of your reasons really resonate with me. I actually like summer better than Spring because it proceeds fall. I too feel most alive in Fall.

March 13, 2010 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

Hi Jenna,

I also really dislike spring. It's wet and mucky and nothing at all like predictable and beautiful fall. Spring is the loose cannon of seasons. It makes me edgy as well.

March 13, 2010 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Green Owl Garden said...

As a kid, when everyone else was sporting their first shorts of the season while slip sliding frisbee playing in the muddy grass, I was overcome with a sort of dread and contempt. And so, for a long time, I felt very much the same way about Spring. That somehow it was a denial of that looming reality of life - the very fact of death.

But over time I came to know that it only felt that way because the culture is steeped in that denial, veiling the real essence of Spring: that out of death comes life. Spring is the reminder that these are not opposing forces, but rather two sides of the same coin.

And therein lies the meaning/joy of Spring which, I can now heartily say, I dread no more.

March 13, 2010 at 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I always want to like spring, I usually don't care for it either. But for me, it's because I've always had terrible spring allergies. I watch all of these people happy about life and green and warmth, while I just want to lay in bed, drink tea, and unclog my head.

March 13, 2010 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger kalanl said...

Oh, Jenna, I loved this post. It was so beautifully written. I completely empathize with your love of fall and all it brings. For some reason the prelude to winter will always feel more like a new beginning than the coming of spring. While my birthday is in April, October is my darling.

March 13, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Aydan said...

I like spring, because it's warm and happy. But I understand where you're coming from: spring (and summer) make me want to abandon many of my principles about clothing and buy lots of them that I don't really need, so in that way I forget about people and get greedy for stuff.

March 13, 2010 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger j.c. said...

I'm beginning to think part of why we're here is to learn to respect the circle of life - embracing all of its cycle. The seasons give us a wonderful opportunity to practice.

March 13, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Mare said...

Spring and Fall are my most favorite times of the year...Both are very messy(like now-5 dogs in a small suburban yard= MUD)and very exciting and beautiful. I have come to peace with Winter and enjoy Summer for the most part, but they are the seasons of extremes-hot and cold...Spring and Fall for me are just right...You're right-it's NOT pretty out there right now, but it is just as it should be.

March 13, 2010 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger E said...

Of Course It Hurts

Of course it hurts when buds burst.
Otherwise why would spring hesitate?


March 13, 2010 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger The Milk Maid said...

Fall is favorite time also. I am happy to see spring because I am tired of cold but the mud is frustrating but fall puts me in a whole different mood, a very good one though.

March 13, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger sissyjane said...

Me too!!!

March 13, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger NuminosityBeads said...

Fascinating point of view and so thoughtfully expressed. I spent over 30 springs in Alaska. They only last a couple of weeks between winter and summer. Perhaps you'd like it there. They call it breakup or just mud season!


March 13, 2010 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger NuminosityBeads said...

Fascinating point of view and so thoughtfully expressed. I spent over 30 springs in Alaska. They only last a couple of weeks between winter and summer. Perhaps you'd like it there. They call it breakup or just mud season!


March 13, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I think it all depends on your geographic location. I hate summer because it's so brutal and brown's WELL over 100 degrees where I live from mid June - September, and it's hard to keep things green and alive. Spring and fall are beautiful times to be outdoors, and winters are mild, so I love those three seasons.

It's all relative to where you're living, I think.

March 13, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I think you'll like spring much better when you have your own lambs to bring into the world....

March 13, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger SouthernHeart said...

I LOVE all its glory. I do like Spring but just endure Summer. I've been to Vermont in the Fall and it was a picture postcard, amazing place.


March 13, 2010 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger DebH said...

I too Love Fall! But that just always takes me back to my life on the farm as a child. The water would break from dams and the tiny new life of fish and tadpoles were coming to life. Born with an innocence from what may lay ahead for them. I HATE Winter!! Winter lays to rest the weak and tries to tear away your strength with each passing day. Give me Spring as it is the break I need to get back to Life!

March 13, 2010 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

I am a huge fan of fall! I start craving it (and winter too - yes, winter), the moment spring comes. Because in the spring, my allergies go whacky, which makes me go whacky and edge and speeds my body and mind up. I like being cool (hate summer) and I like the coziness of being inside in the colder weather....curled up with my knitting.

Linda in VA

March 13, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger mikesgirl said...

Very well written post, and to each his own, for sure. I love spring, but I also love fall - I really detest winter, so that may be why I'm so happy to see spring arrive. Definately food for thought!

March 13, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

First off, congratulations on being one step closer to the dream of a small farm. I was so happy to read this. And boy oh boy, are seasons different here in Los Angeles. Fall is often scorching hot, but my sister and I always have what I call fake fall. We make it work as Tim Gunn says - we put it up the decorations and go with it. Fall really comes in early Winter. And we have a lot of color then. Winter is 6-8 weeks and it means travel up to the mountains and ski if one is inclined. Spring is good here - it is the prize before the really hot months. But my internal calendar revolves around the school year. It is very different but also very rich. Spring means the run down to summer break. All is good.

March 13, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Fall the best too, but because I love to give rather than receive and all of a sudden, people around me start to think that way a little too.
I appreciate the beauty of Spring, a garden in it's infancy and the chance for my own kiddies to help me plant. It is sad, but I am used to the "hurry and get out of my way" attitude of Spring and Summer. I live in CA. I need my place in the country.

March 13, 2010 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger John from Taos said...

Just started following you on Twitter. If I lived up there, I'd buy you lunch!

You take great photos, too. Not fair.

March 13, 2010 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger mjblanchette said...

seems totally crazy to hate any season.

March 13, 2010 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

Very nicely written and thoughtful. But I couldn't disagree more. At least in spring, the constant awareness of my mortality and very finite time left on Earth isn't oppressive to the point that I can't function. When there are long hours of daylight, I feel alive enough to accomplish something. In fall and winter I feel like there's no point at all. I used to like fall when I was a deist...not much any more.

March 13, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

I love all the seasons for their various gifts. I agree with mjblanchette! Almost died when I was just 17 years old from cancer. Lost so many family members at early ages to said disease. Therefore, 39 years later I am thankful beyond belief for each season that enfolds me and lets me relish all the gifts they share with me. I guess, in a chaotic way, that was the "gift" cancer gave to appreciate...period.

March 13, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations about the farm, Jenna! And by "the" I really mean "your new" of course!

I hear you on the springtime blues. I'm a winter person myself, so while I love growing things and summertime activities, I tend to get really panicky as soon as the March melt begins (which is early for us this year)... I always feel like I didn't get quite enough winter, and get horrible anxiety over how busy summer will be...

And I have to say that "I'm never farther away from holy October than I am in the bacchanal of April" is my favourite sentence of today. :)

March 13, 2010 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger karental said...

I'm a big fan of spring. I hope I never take it or life for granted. Thanks for the reminder.

March 13, 2010 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

Jenna, I too have a deep-seated dread of Spring, but for different reasons. I didn't grow up on the plains and, after living here for about a year and a half, have become deathly afraid of spring (and summer) storms because of their potential to spawn monsters. Their occurence is unlikely most of the time, but it's enough of a risk that we may need to look into relocating entirely.

But, I understand your views on Spring. There's something heady about the season that puts the high-functioning part of the human brain to sleep and lets the reptile run rampant.

March 13, 2010 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Turtle said...

hmmm, i must be a real strange one then! I enjoy each season for it's own reasons. Guess I'm just a nature freak! But yes, fall has always been my favorite. I like to take each season and enjoy life in the now, and appreciate the little things.

March 13, 2010 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

LOL, well I am one of those avatars that just loves spring---
But I love fall and summer,too. Hate the winter, with the cold grey skies here in Seattle- the only time of year I long for lush beaches and semi-naked tan bodies lounging around.Buy spring is when I awake from dreams and start into action. But I totally get your frustration with spring.

March 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

We have the opposite issue here. I hate spring because it means the hot weather is right around the corner. Fall is my heart but that's our rainy time. I like rain though. I can't wait to get my Wellies.

March 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Sarah Rachelle said...

This was a beautiful post. Thanks for expressing your point of view so well. It put into words things I've only ever felt but never really understood. A truly interesting observation.

March 13, 2010 at 4:33 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Ah, but Jenna - from this year forward, spring will forever be the anniversary of buying the farm!

March 13, 2010 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Congrats on the new farm! SO excited for you. I love the weather that comes with spring and the excitement of things growing (especially veggie & fruit gardens - yum!), but I hate.the.mud. Sounds silly & ridiculous, but everything around here is still brown & quite ugly. And the mud is terrible. We have three large, wonderful, lovable dogs. They're indoor creatures, and with them comes dirt & MUD. It shouldn't get to me quite as much as it does, but it's basically useless trying to keep our house clean during spring months (and I tend to be a clean freak).

However, this spring we have a small thing to look forward to...our first-time raising chickens! We've decided to make the leap to raising a few hens for fresh eggs (& down the road after they've led a full life, utilizing every part by turning the chickens themselves into food). I have to say, your blog was one of the biggest inspirations for me. The more I read your descriptions of raising chicks, the more I talked about it and the more my soon-to-be hubby began to like the idea. We're in the process of building our coop & in mid-April, will be making a trip to a local farm store to purchase 2-4 hen chicks to bring home & raise as our own. I can't wait! :)

March 13, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger wildflowermoose said...

"And why be grateful for life when there is so much of it around you?" Girlfriend, if that's how you really feel then you're missing out. Being grateful for all of it, well, that's the whole point. Krista

March 13, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Story said...

Woot! daughter Emma went up to the Farmfilmfest today...but, alas you were nowhere to be found! She had a great time. Met the organizer of the event, got brought out to the pub by some brewer guy, met up with NY kinderhook folks and are going to visit their farms next weekend for some sort of workshop thing. Thanks so much for posting this on your blog so we got the chance to go! is before you!

March 14, 2010 at 12:49 AM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

You know what. Next spring will be different. Maybe just maybe that spring will include a lamb or two. It will be including dirt that you own. The orgy of life will have a whole new meaning. It happend to me. My "season love" changed during the first two years of farm ownership

March 14, 2010 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Bird said...

Spring usually fills me with dread. But for different reasons, I think, than you've articulated.

Winter means that I can hide. Under layers of clothes, layers of blankets. I can hide indoors, or under cover of long darkness. I can vanish into snowy woods. I'm not seen and not heard.

Spring means I have to come out of my shell. Shed the clothes in public. Attend birthday parties and cookouts. Be seen. Cavort. Transition, somehow, into extroversion.

I feel a certain pressure come spring. It's as though the earth is demanding something from me. As though it's saying, Be beautiful. Be young again. Shine your light, show your colors. Grow. Lift your spirits. Just try to match or even approach the optimism in these white blossoms on the apple tree!

It's a lot to ask.

I'm down the road from you in northwestern Mass so I think we have similar weather from day to day. I'm secretly overjoyed that we're having a raw windy wet blast, a good solid gray-green March. I'll hold onto that overcoat feeling as long as I can.

Because once April asks me to walk around outside in a t-shirt, I'll feel completely out of my element. Unarmored. When our magnolia starts to shudder with pink, it's almost frightening.

March 14, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger ladybughomer said...

Jenna - these blog comments have been fascinating. I mean weather affects all of us in different ways. Three days of gray in L.A. and we start getting panicky and depressed. It never occurred to me that people used to more inclement weather can feel the same thing from more sunshine. We humans never cease to be interesting. But now that I think about it, I have a relative who was raised in San Francisco and never feels more at peace than when in the fog.

March 14, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger lmel said...

Ditto--mud season and cold rainy weather with patches of snow resembling mold. The only redeeming factors are maple sugaring (although it's a lot of labor after a full day work) and watching the early seedlings sprout. March is that dead time--getting in the last bit of skiing (if there's snow)and anticipating the pre-planting season.

March 14, 2010 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger MGreenwood said...

Oh, I dunno. Spring is probably the season that gives me the most hope for folks who may not be so connected to the planet, it's non-human citizens and the very short-lived cycle of life you are talking about. Plus, it's nice to live with your guard down every once in a while (like maybe once very year). : )

March 14, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

EVERY season has it's beauty, and it's joys and it's unique qualities to appreciate. The trick is to find them, and embrace them.

March 14, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I love spring AND fall, for different reasons. Spring does make me edgy, but just to be outside after being cooped up all winter. However, it's not really spring here until well into April. You know what they say: April is the cruelest month.

March 14, 2010 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Jody M said...

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of 'Breakup' by Dana Stabenow. You might find a few kindred spirits regarding the joys and wonders of spring.

March 15, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

"APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."

-"The Wasteland" by T.S. Eliot

You'd like this poem.

March 15, 2010 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I feel exactly the same way. I could not have described my feelings as well as you have. Glad I'm not alone! Mimi

March 16, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

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