News From the Farm | February 1, 2016

Seasonal Reflection

Here in the Capay Valley, the days are short and the shadows long. With the cooler weather and long awaited winter rains, the dust has turned to mud and the golden hills have turned a soft green. The coyotes are out roaming the hills, the creek is running swiftly and the bright ornaments of winter decorate the citrus orchards. 

When I arrived in Sacramento five months ago to start my internship at Full Belly, I was hit by a wave of 107-degree heat as I stepped off the plane. My first afternoon on the farm I lay spread-eagle on the floor praying that my body temperature would soon adjust from the cold snowy rivers of the Yukon to the brutally hot fields of California. When I drove back into the Capay Valley at the beginning of January after our winter break, I was stunned at its transformation. The hills were no longer golden but a brilliant emerald, bursting with life and heavy with moisture. That first evening back, I spent stoking my wood stove trying to keep the yurt warm as the rain drummed on the roof and the wind rattled the door. 

Here on the farm, where life is lived outside and our work relies on the weather, one is acutely aware of every change the seasons bring. You feel the change in the intensity of the sun on your face, you smell winter in the breeze and you watch as the colors shift from one pallet to another. As I worked in the strawberry field this morning, I watched an orb-like sun burn away the fog and warm the sodden ground. As I watched the early morning sun grow higher in the sky, I thought of Robert Frost’s poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf,

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay. 

Frost neatly captures the rhythm and beauty of life on the farm. The orange globes that currently sprinkle the orchards with color will in time fade and drop from the trees. But as one tree sheds its fruit, we will welcome in the blossoming of another. In a month we will watch as the almond blossoms burst throughout the valley and just as quickly we will watch the petals wither and fall. So the cycle goes. As we witness the return of one crop to the soil, we await the arrival of the next as it grows from its seed, filling the greenhouses with a blanket of delicate green. 

The beauty of the farm has an ephemeral quality: it is a dynamic beauty that is constantly changing. From one day to the next the touch of frost may change a leaf from green to yellow, a rainstorm may spray mud over the bright colors pushing up from the earth, or a farmer may visit a field to harvest, leaving behind bare ground. There is no permanence. But each day is filled with an infinity of beautiful moments as we watch and feel and smell the seasons swirl around us.

— Jill Britton

Jill Britton

Jill started at Full Belly Farm in September, as the whirlwind of summer was slowing and the freight-train of the Hoes Down was barreling towards us. A graduate of Dartmouth College where she was a leader on their organic farm, Jill has spent time in Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Costa Rica as a guide for wilderness backpacking trips for teenagers. Her diverse experience is lending perfectly to her time as an intern. We are glad she is part of the Full Belly Farm crew!