In New England seasons mark the passage of time. It seems like only a few weeks ago we were worrying about whether the trees would bloom too early after hot March days and then when it got colder again, whether the bees would come out to pollinate.
The trees did bloom early but escaped the frosts that devastated some other orchards. Asparagus pushed up through the soil and the strawberries ripened. Suddenly we had an abundance of fruit, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, and peaches all at the same time, summer had arrived.
Now the weather is getting cooler, nights with frost, crisp days, and fewer daylight hours. The apples and pears are all in, harvest is over. We are looking forward to November, the Wine and Apple Festival, Thanksgiving and then we close for the year.
Closing the orchard store is the end of one part of our year but the work continues. When winter arrives we’ll be pruning the fruit trees, repairing equipment, caring for animals and making plans for next year. It is a cycle that goes on and on.
A long time ago we lived for a few years in Southern California. While we enjoyed sunshine every day and sending the children out to play mid-winter with only a sweater, we missed the four seasons of our home state of Michigan.
New England turned out to be the perfect place for us to live. Even before we bought the orchard we looked forward to tilling the earth in the spring preparing to plant our garden. Fresh fruit and veggies followed in the summer. We made jams, canned quarts and quarts of tomato juice, ground up cucumbers, peppers, and onions to make piccalilli, and bought peaches by the bushel for the freezer.
By fall we were more than ready for the end of the garden. We raked the fallen leaves while the children jumped into the piles, burying themselves with glee. Days grew colder. The holidays came with all the delights and stresses that go with the season and then in January we looked forward to sledding and skiing and sitting by the fire. Winter was a time for slowing down and introspection, good months for making plans. The seed catalogs arrived and we started planning for spring. It is a cycle I’ve always enjoyed, a life governed by seasons.
Aging has changed my feelings about seasons a bit. I find that I don’t look forward to the changes in the same way. They come faster and faster, spring, summer, autumn, winter, they flash by and that means my life is flashing by. Instead of the eager anticipation of the coming season that I once welcomed I find myself wishing that time would stand still just for a bit. Give me a few more days to enjoy the blazing beauty of the maples. A bit longer to savor the first snowfall, a few weeks of walking under apple blossoms and eating strawberries warm from the sun.