I have lived among gardeners all my life, but it was only when I joined up with the gleaners and harvested on a real farm that I really became aware of the incredible abundance the earth provides us. Matt, our Gleaning Coordinator, has tallied our totals for 2013, and it was a really great year. (You can review Matt’s statistics in last month’s blog.) It was, especially, the year of the apple - 995.5 bushels!
We’ve thanked our farmers and volunteers via the annual meeting and celebration of our volunteers, and board and staff are already well into planning our work for next year. As I hunkered down against this frigid winter, I came across this poem by Robert Frost, poet and apple farmer, which I thought you might enjoy. It expresses a farmer’s benediction, or at least valediction, to his young orchard as winter comes on and he moves on to seasonal tasks.
Good-bye and Keep Cold
This saying goodbye on the edge of the dark
And the cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don’t want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don’t want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don’t want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn’t be idle to call
I’d summon grouse, rabbit and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don’t want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it musn’t get warm.
‘How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Goodbye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.’
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business a while is with different trees,
Less carefully nurtured, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe.
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
So, to the orchard, good-bye and keep cold. To you, friends, goodbye and keep warm.