Just as we wake and sleep in our daily rhythm, so does the earth in her annual cycle. A common conception is that the earth wakes in spring, is most alive in summer and then falls back asleep for a winter’s rest. In biodynamics, drawing a line at ground level, we take a different view.
The teeming life observable in the lush summertime will be stored in seed and roots underground during winter. The life of the soil is especially strong in winter, the season when the earth is most inwardly alive, and it tends to die down in the summer. I also feel more aware and alive in the cooler months than I do when it’s warm outside.
Spring has flown by with summer on her heels, and we’ve been running non-stop ourselves. Between hoeing and haying, picking produce for selling or the cellar, and all the fresh tasks which pop up unannounced like scenes in a dream, there is no time to think. Repetitious farm work can become second nature, not requiring conscious thinking, with the feeling that I’m just another organ in the farm organism.
Taking a break, I stroll by the head-high cosmos with my head in a dream. I remember being wide awake last January, ordering these Bright Lights seeds. The garden is a dream, a dream come true, as the heavenly taste of the first raspberries confirm. My walk reveals more organs of the farm’s body: clover meadows and oak forests, flashing springs and a tadpole mud hole, and the flight patterns of June bugs weaving an invisible tapestry over the basil and zinnias. The buckwheat has intense insectual activity, and the flitting swallowtails wonder where the carrots have gone.
In this flying, midsummer’s dream, I move by a swimming hole full of kids, themselves full of raw corn. They are dreaming of watermelons (“how long til they’re ripe?”) and the next pool down the stream. I must have fallen asleep sometime last spring, maybe with the soft purr of the farm tractor, puttering up and down the long, monotonous rows in the potato field.
The sun’s sleepy warmth helped, too, and both the earth and I are now fully extended. The earth’s soul is exhaled in summer, as ours is in sleep. Her breath is green, tinged with a rainbow of flowers. The aliveness above ground reflects a dearth of life below.
A neighbor drops by with a bushel of apples for us. He tries to remind me I grafted a Golden Sweet for him 15 years ago. Although I remember dreaming the trees I splice together every February will bear fruit someday, this connection remains intangible. It’ll be autumn before I awaken.
Fall is when we bury cow horns stuffed with cow manure, a great asset of our farm. This wonderful fertilizer is potentized by it’s stay in the horn inside the earth’s bosom while she is most alive. The sparkling crystals of snow are visible signs of the strong crystallizing forces underground in winter. My thoughts crystallize better in winter, too.
Horn manure, used as a spray or in compost tea, helps form humus. A humus-rich soil, a farmer’s dream, has an inherent life of it’s own, eager to become a plant when a seed is sown. In the seed we have an image of the whole universe, a miniature chaos, with a particular constellation taking effect. As the plant grows the earth works on it. Farmers infuse the soil with compost, which is plant and animal products that have not yet reached the chaos stage of seed formation.
Our last vegetable delivery is right before Christmas, and then the farm activities slow down a bit. At this time of year we can use our imagination to picture next years garden, vibrant and healthy. We’ll plan out the crop rotations, do concentration exercises for the problem areas, and simply think a little more broadly about the farm and its relationships.
Thinking often leads to wanting. Desires require natural resources to fulfill, and the farm offers a place where health, wealth and dreams are not only preserved, but revered and enhanced. We need a few things from the outer world today, fuel for the tractor and ice cream for an apple pie, which conjure up dreams of biodiesel and a new milk cow. When I go to town I feel many other forces at work on me, but here on the farm I’m much more in control, as if the dream is lucid.
As I wander down the verdant garden aisles I sense the earth beneath my feet is sleeping. This display of exuberant photosynthesis will still be with us next winter, as a potential life force in the soil. Winter is the season when the earth inhales her life and soul back inside. The leaves will fall and bare branches, like outstretched nerve endings, will reveal limestone bluffs and distant horizons. When the earth, and I, wake back up, new dreams will sprout.