In the past week it feels like we have passed over the threshold from winter to spring. The last of the snow has melted, temperatures are consistently higher and the sun has made a reappearance in our front yard, a sure sign of the tilting earth. Usually I am pretty giddy around this time of year, but this year I haven’t felt that springtime euphoria yet.
I’m mostly feeling stuckness. Stuck in habitual routines that I’m bored with. Stuck in less-than-helpful mental dialogues. Stuck with decisions big and small, and not knowing what to choose. Stuck in a winter mindset when spring is just about to leap into action all around me.
In the midst of this stuckness, I recently remembered my word of the year. Harvest. At the start of this year I set an intention to harvest the abundance that is all around me in my life. I kind of forgot about that. Deep winter is a time to harvest things like quiet evenings and lots of reading, and being persistent about sorting out sticky knitting problems and things like that. Which I did, with great satisfaction.
And now there is a shift happening. I’m starting to realize that there may be more to this idea of harvest than I first anticipated. That harvesting is not just happy fruit-gathering on sunny afternoons or earning money from my skills, but that everything that is harvested is losing its life in one way or another. Or, more accurately, that its life is being used in support of mine.
Those berries we picked will not be able to decompose and support the growth of more berry bushes, but will be crushed and digested to support the growth of me and my family. Earning money means trading free time (and all of its potential) to do specific work that benefits someone else. We will soon harvest our rooster’s abundance by giving him the chance to fertilize our neighbour’s flock and then butchering him.
I realized that part of the reason I didn’t harvest my beautiful pumpkins last fall was that I was so pleased with the way they looked sitting there on my porch. I never wanted to say to myself, “Ok, pumpkins, time to get chopped up and puréed.”
To harvest something, you must part with the way it currently is. You need to recognize the right time for separation – too early and you miss out on potential growth. Too late and it’s killed by the frost or attacks your children with its nasty spurs.
Harvest is transformation. Harvest is death and rebirth. Harvest is culling and thinning and picking and processing. It is using something up – money, materials, potential, possibility – and turning it into something fixed and finite. It’s a decision you can’t undo.
Oy. It’s all a little more than I expected to be getting into, I think. But it’s exactly the lesson I need to learn right now.