We tilled the last of the garden under last week. It’s the sort of thing that at first glance may appear to be a disheartening chore. Bidding farewell to the plants we tended so dutifully these last six months. It was certainly suggested to us on more than one occasion. But you know what? No. Strangely enough, it has become a favourite part of the season. The process itself is fairly menial. Push the tiller in a straight line through the dirt. Turn. Repeat. Try not to act too terrified when it hits a hidden rock and leaps forward. Don’t roll it over the hill (oops.) Don’t get it stuck in the mud (ah… right. About that.) And when you neglect to heed those last two instructions for the umpteenth time? Make sure you have Phil on speed dial.
But there’s more to it than just the process. With each step, menial though it may be, a little more of last year’s successes and failures pass under our feet and into the dirt. It is a humbling and perspective-gaining experience, watching an entire season’s work reduced to the same soil from which it sprung. It is a time for reflection. And from this reflection emerge two seemingly immiscible outcomes. Closure and potential. The turning of the soil bears the inevitable acknowledgment of the season’s end. Those nagging bullet points, scribbles, and reminders that never made it off of the to-do list? They won’t happen. Not this season. But as root, stem, and leaf disappear ahead of us, a blank slate emerges behind. The remnants of the season’s bounty, slowly breaking down beneath the surface, with time will be the soil that fuels next year’s crops. In the months that will follow, this soil will sleep, but come Spring we will sow every one of this year’s ‘I wish I had…’s, ‘Why didn’t we… ?’s, and ‘I wonder what would happen if… ?’s. From those ideas, questions, and observations will spring many more. It’s an iterative process that we find ourselves in, every year coming a little closer to an ever-elusive end-goal.
Now. Lest you begin to think that we enjoy tilling our crops more than growing them, let us assure you otherwise. Nothing will ever replace the joy of watching a seedling emerge from the earth, nor will anything compare to the satisfaction of pulling the first tomato. But, as someone much wiser (and less long-winded) than us once said, for everything there is a season. A time to sow. A time to reap. And in our case, a time to turn under. Each of these seasons has come and gone, bearing with them abundance, lessons, memories. The ephemeral nature of the seasons lends itself to this process of reflection, of appreciation for what was and anticipation of what will be. We may not be paving paradise, but it is still all too easy to forget what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone. The changing of the seasons reminds us of that.