Portage River Farm

  (Pinckney, Michigan)
Notes on our struggles and successes on our family farm in rural Michigan.
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Longing For The Light!

Somewhere back there in the distant past it was first explained to me. Some adult in my life took the time to patiently relate the mystery of the seasonal shortening and lengthening of daylight. I can imagine myself wide-eyed and innocent as my consciousness struggled to take in the complex astronomical concepts that caused my outdoor playtime to be cut short as a consequence of living on an orbiting, spinning and tilting world.

Eventually my turn came around to be the adult in this age-old exchange. I have struggled to find a clear way to help my children understand why they were made to go to bed in the summer when it was still light or go to school in the winter when it was still dark. Unfortunately for them, their father is one who has always preferred the long and complex answer to the simple one. Eventually I get down to the method that always works, the demonstration with the flashlight and the wobbling basketball.

As with all of us, I am well schooled and long experienced with the facts of the changing seasons. That is why it seems odd that it took half a lifetime to finally feel the full force of planetary happenstance. For most of my adult life, I have led an suburban existence where indoor living and artificial lighting have reduced the changes in daylight to a mere curiosity as I occasionally glanced toward a window. Now that my life has changed to a much more rural, much more outdoor existence, I find the shortening of the day has an oppressive impact on my productivity.

I am aware that these feelings are exacerbated by the fact that I am attempting a dual existence of holding down a full time job away from the farm during the weekday and struggling to squeeze my beloved farming into evenings and weekends. I'm sure that the full time farmer feels the impact of the shortened day as a limitation of how much he can accomplish. For me, this season means that I never see my farm by the light of day except during the weekend.

As such, I find myself struggling mightily to keep up the pace on my projects. I keep a headlamp in my coat pocket all of the time and most evenings will find me out in the darkness trying to work by its dim beam. I have even resorted to mowing my entire two-acre lawn in the dark by attaching a flashlight to the handlebars of my push mower!

As much as anything, I am looking forward to the coming holiday season because our wobbling basketball world will finally reach the point where the night will give way to increasing daylight once again. Until then, I guess I should be spending a little more of my time on those nagging indoor chores or perhaps even slowing down just a little. I would like to think that my life will progressively adjust to one more harmonious with the weather and seasons, but that just may have to wait until that happy day when I can retire and take up farming full time.
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