A Secret

In less than a week, once again I’ll dive into the cycle of the farming year. While outside the world will be cold and snow-covered, I’ll enter the warm, protected space of the greenhouse, breathe deep the scent of thawed earth, fill flats with potting soil, and begin seeding onions, leeks, and shallots.

It’s the first stage of a long journey: The greenhouse work intensifies as the weeks go by. Then, sometime in April (ideally), the ground dries out enough to begin fieldwork. May sees the beginning of transplanting. June finds us fighting the weeds. Come July, we harvest more and more. August is something of a crescendo, the point at which the trajectory of the season is set and we begin the ride to the end. September is all about the harvest, October brings frost, and November we put the farm to bed before the ground freezes and the winter snows fall again. One big glorious, beautiful, dramatic arc, reliably repeating year in and year out.

I’ll tell you a secret: Here, from February’s perspective, it never fails to look impossible. Impossibly complex. Impossibly difficult. Impossibly risky. Who again, I’ll ask myself, thought this was a good idea? But come that first Monday in March—I’ve done this now for a dozen years—I’ll eagerly sink my hands deep into that bag of potting soil, grateful for another turn of the wheel.