As I am sitting here thinking about what to write I am watching the chickadees swiftly move amongst the branches of the lilac tree outside of our living room window. The air is crisp and the dew that covers the garden numbs your finger tips. This morning my son and I went out to the garden to gather the winter cabbage. Normally the fall harvest is one of my favorite times of year but this year it has taken on a much deeper meaning.
In 2006 our little section of the country fell victim to the "Hundred Year Flood". Recently with the back to back arrival of the tropical storms Irene and Lee our area was once again submerged by another "Hundred Year Flood", problem is it was 95 years too early. Luckily for our family we are situated on enough of a hill that the waters stopped about 30 to 40 yards from our home, so aside from a wet basement we made it out in fairly good shape. Countless farmers lost entire crops of corn and soybean to the flood. Homes were destroyed that had only been rebuilt a year or two ago and people found themselves relying on their neighbors for assistance. Clean water was scarce, food was temporarily in shortage and the entire County came to a grinding halt.
I bring this up, not only to document it but to relate it to the tranquility that I normally find within the garden when times are tough. My first instinct when hours turned into days was to head to the garden for a bit of quiet reflection. Unfortunately though the flood waters brought hordes of mosquitoes. It was nearly impossible to stand in one location for more than a few seconds. Our local village officials thought that it would make sense to drive dump truck loads of flood waste to our neighborhood and simply dump it across the street from our homes. Since we live in one of the poorer districts they figured it would not raise too much concern. We of course complained to the village and launched complaints with environmental groups and they eventually stopped but never actually cleaned the mess up, they just stopped bringing new waste. It was too late though the damage had been done.
So this morning when I went out to the garden with my son, like I have countless times before, I tried to imagine what things will be like next year when life is "back to normal". I sincerely tried to enjoy the delicate moment that we shared as we harvested cabbage and watched the sunflowers hang heavy in the damp morning light. I hung on his every word as he asked questions about the spiders and slugs, the carrots and the pumpkins.
We were the lucky ones, we still have a little bit of Eden to help wash away our troubles. Some of our neighbors were not so lucky and so I am extra thankful for all that we have.
Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead https://www.facebook.com/seedtoharvestbossyhenhomestead/ which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here https://amileinhershoestalesofastayathomedad.wordpress.com/