08 January, 2022
Saturday, January 8, 2022
-by Nikki Bartley
Snow day. The first full snow day of the year is always a joy. An unexpected gift. To celebrate, I let Daisy off leash on our daily walk to the cranberry bog because the roads were completely still and empty. It felt as if the whole world was still asleep under the thick blanket of snow covering the trees and houses. As I walked the sunshine felt stronger than it had all week, almost blinding me as it bounced off the white snow. I could feel my spirits lifting as I watched Daisy leap from one snow pile to the next. It was pure joy if only for a moment.
If I’m being honest, it was the first time this January that I felt any joy at all. January is usually the time for reflection and thinking about the big picture on the farm. We get to slow down enough in January to consider what worked last year and what did not. We dust off our crop plan, make adjustments to the list of flowers we grow, order our seeds and growing supplies. We plant our earliest spring crops like ranunculus and anemones in our high tunnels and force tulips in crates in our heated greenhouse on the warmer days.
We hire our seasonal crew in January and we set our annual budget goals. We talk about ways to farm more efficiently, consider new equipment purchases and plan events and workshops for the season ahead. It is generally one of my favorite parts of the season, we get to just farm and plan.
But January also has a darker side. For the farmer in me that loves to move and create outside in nature, the stillness of January can bring a special kind of agony. Slowing down does not come easily for me. And so far, January 2022 just feels hard and not fun. Zero inspiration, zero motivation. I have talked to other farmers and florist colleagues, friends and peers. They have echoed a similar sentiment. Can we keep up the pace we have set for ourselves over the past two years? We were so busy during COVID, how will we keep up in a post COVID world with labor and supply shortages? The sense of overwhelm is palpable.
This got me pondering. So many COVID days during the quarantine felt like snow days. Days where the rules and daily routines were briefly suspended, and we all got a chance to slow down in unexpected ways and the noise of the outside world grew quiet and distant.
Looking back on the last two years, it would be crazy to say I slowed down. Cross Street Flower Farm took off during COVID. Unlike other businesses, we never stopped farming, and many new customers found our farm while they were quarantined at home. Our flowers brought joy in a dark time. And providing joy to my community brought me and my team unparalleled joy in return. The giving is always better than the receiving. So we continued to give and give until it almost felt like an addiction, and so when the work eventually stops or slows, if even for a moment, the wheels start to fall off. Strange indeed, but I realize the truth in this now where I could not while I was in the midst of it.
I am not feeling nostalgia or arguing for another shut down, believe me, and certainly not trying to glorify COVID. My family finally got COVID over Christmas and New Year break, and I was sick in bed when the ball dropped on 2022.
COVID is still very much here, but we are all out of snow days. Life has resumed full tilt and COVID is now just another part of it. The slowdown is over, and joy flew out the door after it.
And that’s what I realized yesterday on my snowy walk with Daisy. It’s okay and necessary to grieve the end of the slowdown, to miss the quiet. It’s okay to think about what you really liked about what changed during COVID, and even better if you can try to make some of those changes lasting.
Because if we don’t allow ourselves to learn from the silver lining of the last two years, that would be the real loss. It’s okay to not feel great about this New Year, and unsure about what lies ahead in 2022. It’s okay to both crave some parts of the slow down and want life to go back to normal. We are complex beings, and it is okay to hold contradictory feelings about complex problems. I started a recent post with the quote, “without the dark there can be no light.” I want to add that there can also be gray, it is the color right smack dab in the middle of black and white. As much as we try to fight it, the hard truth is that sometimes surrendering to the gray, and acknowledging something feels amiss is the only way out of the messy middle.
So, my intention for this post and anyone reading it is as follows. If you also did not feel restored on January 1, 2022, that is okay. Give yourself a grace period. It is okay to make today or any other day that follows your New Year, your fresh start. Whenever it comes to you is right on time. Surrender to the joy when it comes, celebrate it even if it is fleeting at first. And remember that Mother Nature can only stand so much of this frigid weather before she sets about waking up the earth with Springtime and flowers once again.
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