A Change in the Air
Originally published in About Magazine
There’s a change in the air. As children once again pile on yellow buses and the noon sun has tilted a little more to the south all signs point toward fall. Around the cabin there are more. The elms and the sycamore trees are fading from green to yellow and black gum trees already have crimson leaves hanging from their branches. Beneath them fawns are rapidly losing their spots and the summer’s heat is beginning to lose its determination as cooler mornings greet the rising sun.
It’s as if the world has taken in a great sigh of relief.
On the farm, our winter’s supply of hay is now in the barn and the cattle have been moved to their winter pastures. Increasing numbers of nomads, in clean pickup trucks, from the city stir up great clouds of dust each weekend as they come to our mountains, but haven’t quite embraced our slower pace.
We have our rhythms. We dance our dance
Soon the air conditioners will be turned off and windows will be opened. Soon my chainsaw will once again be busy cutting dead trees into firewood and standing pines for lumber. The county fair will soon become the talk of the town where farm kids show their prized animals and people compete for the county’s best peach preserves.
The seasons of growing are passing. The seasons of dying are approaching.
Around the cabin we still mostly follow an agrarian calendar. Early spring is the first calving season and when we take our first crop of steers to market. Summers are mostly about cutting and baling hay, managing pastures and keeping an eye out for things that can cause sickness in the herd. The peak summer heat makes it near intolerable to do much else. Fall is the second calving season and when the next crop of steers goes to market. It’s also the time for campfires, cutting firewood and hunting. Winter keeps us occupied with feeding animals and doing repairs around the farm. And winter’s long and cold nights are for staying inside by the stove with a good book and a warm glass.
Every season has its responsibilities. Every season has its limitations.
Ecclesiastes 3 1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
There is a part of me that mourns for those who don’t live their lives beneath the sky. A part of me that pities those who don’t notice the moon. For whom the rain holds no significance.
For most of my life I’ve lived within the reach of nature and I’ve intentionally kept it so. When we insulate ourselves from it we forget that we’re a part of a living and breathing world. The natural world is a world built of circles. All of them turning and coming back around again. One thing flows into the next thing. All of them connected and all of them dependent. From the smallest bacteria to the largest predator.
Unfortunately, the modern world makes it easy to forget this. Climate controlled everything makes it easy to ignore the weather. Digital screens make it easy to ignore the outside world. It’s this insulation that makes it easy to forget that we’re part of something far larger and far more complex and keeps us living in sweet oblivion to the things that really matter.
There is a time for everything under the sun. Especially a time to step out in it.