Just As It Should Be
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
“I know something that doesn’t die can’t be beautiful.”
It’s a slower time of year. For our family of 5, this means time is marked by play. In the month of February, you can find us in the backyard aggressively power wheeling, launching through winter’s harsh air on swing sets, and attempting intimate dinners while a cacophony of sounds play out in the background. This is a strange yet valuable break from the usual way we bide our time. As fruit farmers, we’re constantly waiting, watching, and tending the strawberry runs. Strawberries happily set the pace of our lives from March to November. We set our clocks to the slow gorgeous unfurling of green leaves, then fragile white blossoms, fuzzy green beads blushing pink, and finally ripe berries ready for a rush of pickers. But, right now, we’re waiting on warmer ground.
Our crop is perfectly and delightfully dead. Just as it should be. The cold has done its job and killed off all the tender growth. What’s left is a magnificently sad bunch of brown leaves holding a crown of potential underground. About the time people switch pumpkins for twinkle lights, we cover the strawberry runs with 25 by 1,000 feet of material that looks like hospital gowns. This is appropriate considering we do take great care to nurse our vulnerable crop. We cover the runs to keep the frost off and keep the berries warm. By sheltering our runs, we keep the crown of the plants intact. As early spring dawns upon Ohio, the ground will reach about 50 degrees, and our royal crown waiting for her rubies will produce leaves, then tiny white flowers, and finally plump berries. The dying of everything is right on time. Our crown is covered so she can recoup deep down in the ground, and our family finds solace in the practice of each other without all the rushing. I guess, you could say, both family and crop are finding our sense of grounding, so that something magical can bloom anew. Death is a part of rebirth and a part of beauty. This is a truth literally caked on our hands as farmers, so that it never feels far from our hearts.
On days that bite deep with cold, we find ourselves drawn out to the farm to tend to…something. It’s just who we are. So we step inside the greenhouse and fill crinkly black trays with flower seeds. 20,000 to be exact. When the soil thaws, we’ll plant the seeds and watch the petals reach for spring. We’ll have enough flowers for farmers markets and for people to buy and fill their porches. Because people desperately reach for spring too.
That’s our February update. We’re excited about all the green that will soon sprawl across our fields, but for now, back to cuddles, snow angels, and noisy dinners at home.