Recall that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones places a golden headpiece on top of a staff and a sunbeam shoots through to mark on a map the location of the lost Ark. Cue dramatic music in your mind as well.
That’s what first came to mind when I shot this picture back on February 7th. The angle of the sun was just so, and the timing was just so. I’ve walked past that particular location every morning and have never seen it the same way since.
I know that sunbeam didn’t mark a map or indicate any particular treasure except this: I had the privilege of seeing that particular treasure. Maybe I’ll see it again next year on February 7th, if the conditions are just so. Maybe I’ll never see it again, in which case it really was a treasure of the moment.
The same can be said of this particular treasure, which I managed to capture on February 12th (again, cue dramatic music). I’ve never seen this before or since. What a treasure!
But there is not just golden treasure in abundance, but also sparkling gems like this from March 4th.
It occured to me this morning that we come across treasures every day if we take the time to notice. Rarely is the treasure we find as amazing as buried gold coins or a 20-dollar bill all by its lonesome on the sidewalk. But there is treasure to be found every day. A simple dew drop on a blade of grass can be gorgeous. And the wonder we have at a spiderweb which spans a room can be a treasure for our brains (how did she do that?).
I’m now looking for treasure every day. Some treasures cannot be captured adequately in a photograph, but noticing them and appreciating them warms my heart. Here’s a spot of gold I found this morning.
Look for and enjoy everyday treasures. No headpieces or dramatic music required.
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.
I came across this proverb a couple weeks ago, right at the time when I was seriously contemplating the fact that this year marks the 20th anniversary of North Star Orchard. It was really amazing timing, finding that proverb. Ike and I planted our original orchard twenty years ago, in 1992, and this year we are planting a brand-new, very unique orchard.
Lisa and Ike in 1992
The “best time
” to plant trees was twenty years ago, although we didn’t know it. Just think about twenty years ago with respect to the locally-grown foods movement -it basically didn’t exist. Sure, there were farms around, but most of them were not growing food to be consumed locally. There were NO producer-only farmers’ markets in this area. There were NO CSAs in this area. None. My, but times have changed.
This is an age, however, when many of us are very afraid of where things are headed. Climate change, GMOs, rising gasoline prices, fracking, political and economic nonsense…the list goes on and on. Yet, we should also think about the GOOD things that have happened over the past twenty years: the rise of Farmers’ Markets, CSAs, reusable totes taking the place of plastic bags for many people (including me), more people learning how to prepare food or even grow food at home. These are all fantastic changes we’ve seen, and they are something to keep in mind when you’re feeling low about the other very concerning things going on. As Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture said in a talk recently, “Hope is a renewable resource.” Thank you, Shannon; we definitely needed that. (Note to self: repeat this phrase daily)
Lucy Larcom, a 19th century writer, poet, and model for changes in women’s societal roles, said, “He who plants a tree plants a hope.” I concur. Our “hope” in 1992 as we, a young couple in our mid-twenties, planted our first trees was simply that we’d be able to make a living at being essentially a micro-orchard. No one planted orchards of 4 acres in size at that time. There was also no market for our fruit at the time we planted. Things changed as our farm grew, thankfully, and our hopes were realized when the first producer-only market in the area, the West Chester Growers’ Market, opened during the first year our little orchard bore fruit.
Now is the “second-best” time to plant trees. And it’s true. Many of us now have a new vision- to live as responsibly as we can, and try to encourage others to do likewise, not by coercion or argument, but by example. We see a new generation of children to whom going to the farmers’ market or CSA is the normal way to get food, and to whom reusing bags and enjoying meals as a family is the normal way to live. Just think about that for a moment. What a delightful change and improvement from twenty years ago!
Our “hope” now, in 2012, as we plant this brand-new orchard is that we’ll see more positive changes growing right along with them. As per with our original planting, we have no market for this new fruit. Just how does one market literally hundreds of varieties of apples? Seventy varieties was one thing, but 300 or more? I think they’ll be well accepted, however. Those aforementioned positive changes, including the new ‘normal’ some of our children are experiencing, will make it easy for people to want more: more connection to real food, more focus on sustainable living, more desire to connect with people and the planet.
I look forward very much to the next twenty years of North Star Orchard. Looking back, I see only amazing and positive changes with regards to that original planting. Going forward, this new planting of antique and oddball varieties will surely do the same.
My grandfather once said, “How drab this world would be if all flowers were the same color, or if all trees bore the same fruit, or if all the fish of the sea looked alike. How tiresome and dull it would be also if people looked alike, dressed alike, and thought alike.” Indeed. I look forward to the next twenty years with anticipation. Meeting new people, exploring new ideas, learning new skills, and tasting new flavors will be a grand adventure. Then I’ll be able to reflect on all the positive things which have happened since now.
Writer Bryce Nelson said, “People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people.”
Indeed this is true. But this writer would prefer to put it in a more positive light, so here it is: “People who sustain trees live in a world which sustains people.” I like that one much better. Thank you, everyone, for sharing the journey with us! (You can help flavor the future by sponsoring one of these special trees. Click here for more information.)
PS. Now maybe you can see why the title of this post is limited to “20 Years of….” Fill in the blank as desired: trees, the farm, fruit, changes, a local foods movement, variety, hope, love.