Windfall

If you were to ask the storm, it would probably say it got held up in traffic. Fall technically arrived yesterday morning at 6:30, but didn’t start in earnest until somewhere around midnight when everything blew sideways with scudding low clouds and drenching rain on a southeast gale. By the time it got light this morning (note that I didn’t say “by the time the sun rose”), summer was gone and autumn was settling into the still-warm comfy chair she’d so hastily abandoned.

The change in seasons always brings a bit of a panic on a farm. Even for people like me, who are only vaguely aware of everything there is to panic about when summer comes to an abrupt end. There’s still all sorts of unfinished construction (an implement shed, the wash-pack station), some not-yet-begun construction (an actual barn door, to keep storms like this out of the barn). Old fence line to clear, new fencing to put up. We were going to clear out the wild rose that’s taken over the western brush pasture before the rains hit. The community garden needs to be cleared out, put to bed, the space for the new plots graded and tarped. The…well, there’s lots of stuff.

And there are tons of apples to pick, pears to pick. Well, there were. The storm has taken care of at least one of our tasks for us: aside from probably a dozen or so in the upper reaches, the pear tree has seen fit to take some work off our hands and pick itself, shedding a summer’s worth of fruit strewn all the heck over (I’ve been trying to figure out how it managed to fling some of the larger pieces so far – wind and gravity alone seem insufficient for the radius its covered). The apple trees have been a bit more judicious, but there were still more apples among the reed canary grass than I could haul in a cardboard box and a couple of overloaded shopping bags. What I could carry is now sitting tight in the walk-in cooler while we figure out what to do with this literal and premature windfall.

It’s a metaphor, I suppose for the farm itself – stuff you’re not ready for coming at you. On a farm, I suppose it’s easy to see almost everything as a metaphor. For the seasons of life, the sweated-for rewards that are snatched away, and the unasked-for bounty that the earth just keeps giving, whether you’re ready for it or not.

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