Where the Land Meets the Sky

The unrivaled unraveling continues, and yet, so, too, does spring. Just as the leaves are unfurling, so we humans continue folding back inward. Spring is bursting forth and yet here we are, “sheltering in place.”

Etienne White

While our day-to-day lives have contracted, thankfully the weather has warmed. Joy is now to be found in the simplest of spring things. Pressing fingertips into soil and planting seeds has always felt sacred to me, and now it feels hopeful, too. As I do it, I wonder how many others are doing it, too. I wonder what our lives will be like when harvest time comes. I have found myself working in the garden most often on Sundays; a spiritual worship of sorts. In my garden cathedral, the hymns are sung by the wind through the pine trees, and by the calls of geese at the lake, traveling to us on the breeze.

The mourning doves, returned from their winter travels, are building nests into which eggs will be laid and then patiently kept warm. These doves are our state symbol of peace and I’m so glad for the peace their soft coos bring. They, too, are nesting and not going far. They, too, are focusing on staying safely at home and they, too, are guarding the health of their precious ones.

Nature does not specifically practice social distancing, but she does practice wisdom in all forms. I am still resisting predicting too far ahead. I do not know anyone who is certain of what might happen next. So rather than amass knowledge, I have been cultivating hope. This hope I have been feeding carefully, tending to and watering is founded on a lightening feeling. First felt in my belly when I heard all online seed retailers were sold out; as citizens en-masse take growing their own food into their own gardens; combined with a heartbeat that skips when children (mine and others) say they are enjoying the break from school and the renewed connection with family. It’s felt, too, in the sheer relief shared by friends and colleagues who may now work remotely vs. enduring a daily commute. 

For while we cannot turn away from the bad news, we can certainly cultivate the way we seek out the good news. We are seeing farmers giving back to their communities, masks being made in homes across the land, all those on the front lines working to save the most vulnerable. Everywhere you look, we have, in fact, become our own spring, bursting forth with energy and love. We are not “sheltering in place” but instead “sheltering in grace.” And with each act of grace, new seeds of hope are planted. I wonder how many others are planting them? I wonder, what will life be like when harvest time comes? Please, keep on planting.

Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She works at the intersection of marketing and sustainability, leading efforts to create mass consumer behavior change, for the greater good of both people and planet.