harvesting hope

We go every year. Maybe you do, too.

We pick a perfect fall morning, bright and clear. We drive through rolling country roads, farms and hills and trees ablaze with orange, yellow, red. We grab our bags and head for the rows of trees upon trees.

We pick, pluck, pause and pick another, piling the apples high. We eat them off the branch, munching as we crunch through the leaves. The kids kick the fallen fruit; the adults haul the harvest in heavy paper sacks. We head back to the farm for cool cider and warm donuts. Then we wind our way back home, plans of pies and sauce and crisp and muffins wafting through our weekend.

The annual apple orchard trip.

This year we found a new farm, smaller-scale, family-owned. I laughed with another mom as we circled the gnarly trees, branches heavy with shiny red fruits. “Isn’t it great to beat the crowds here?” she said. I agreed, nodding. A bulky black camera swung from her neck. “We’re yuppies, don’t get me wrong. We’re not really here for the apples. But we just have to come every year, you know?”

I know.

I noticed, for the first time this year. Even in the quieter crowds, every parent had a camera. We clicked as the kids picked. We followed as they wandered round the trees. We snapped as they spun around swings and slides.

Why? I wondered. Yes, the autumn light is bright and crisp in the morning, perfect for photos. And rosy-cheeked children next to nature’s greens and reds are a pretty combination. But maybe it’s more.

These annual trips become touchstones, Kairos moments in the chronos of parenting. We step outside with our kids, away from home and school and work, and realize – suddenly, swiftly, sharply – how much they’ve grown. We scramble to capture a moment that is already fleeting.

Because we need to know, amidst the endless, exhausting and exasperating days, how close the harvest creeps under our very eyes. How quickly the years race by.

I’m guilty of it, too. I snap all day as my babies play. Something deep inside me tugs; I can’t help but try to capture what it means to my mothering soul to see them a little taller, a little bigger each year. All at once I want to wrap my arms around them and keep them this small, sweet age for always, and nudge them on to the next stage, too. Sentiment and melancholy in the same breath, so quintessentially autumn.

I realized this year why parents photograph the picking, not the planting of seeds. Because that work – the slow, tedious, watchful work of tending and waiting – is the work we do every single day. We know sowing and growing, but what we long to see, what we hope will come, what the family rituals and the yearly crop celebrate, is that one day their harvest will be here, too. They’ll be ripe and ready, big and beautiful. We’ll be able to see the fruits of our labors. We hope.

Some day. Still so far.

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  1. Rachel on 9 October 2012 at 9:27 pm

    So beautiful. I jumped over to your blog from a comment you left on The Power of Moms. I’m so glad I did.

    I’ve often thought that the difference between a good writer and a great writer is the quality of their thoughts. Some people think well, and yet they can’t capture their thoughts through words. Some people write well, and yet their writing only communicates basic human truths. The magic happens when someone thinks incredibly deep and beautiful thoughts AND can capture them through words. I’d say you have the gift.

    It’s not often that I follow blogs of people I don’t know personally, but I will be following yours from now on. I want to read more of these thoughts!

    • mothering spirit on 9 October 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Thank you so much, Rachel. I can’t tell you how much these words lifted me up today.

  2. mkk on 7 October 2012 at 6:33 am

    Gorgeous. You capture the beauty of fall and the yearning it awakens in me. Love this!

    • mothering spirit on 9 October 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Fall does awaken something – you’re so right! It’s not just spring that awakens; there’s a call in autumn that’s deeper, more reflective.

  3. Roxane B. Salonen on 6 October 2012 at 11:37 pm

    You have a beautiful way of expressing what you are feeling, thinking and seeing. Thank you for sharing it with us. I could smell the apples through the computer screen, and I could feel the tugs of your heart, too.

    • mothering spirit on 9 October 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you, Roxane – your words are so uplifting.

  4. Marie on 5 October 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. It got me excited for our annual trip tomorrow to a local farm orchard as well. Not glitzy, just good ol’ fun and it is our 1st time with our little one and I am so excited to start this tradition with her. When I think last year of how I was just starting my 3rd trimester with her and was so excited to meet her (at the time I didn’t know it was a her), and I now I can’t even imagine life without her. I love the idea of harvesting hope…you are such a beautiful writer. As my little one is napping, this was a great refresher for my mother’s heart. God Bless! P.S. If you want to go to a really neat orchard – check out Fall Harvest Orchard near Delano, I think it is so neat and wonderful for kids (and free) – can’t beat that.

    • mothering spirit on 9 October 2012 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks, Marie! I will keep that orchard in mind. We went to Deer Lake in Buffalo, and it was just beautiful. Hope you enjoyed your trip as well, especially your first with your first! 🙂

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