Dramatic Pause: The In-Between Season

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By Heidi Lewis

Photo courtesy of Beechwood Farms, Biglerville, PA

Great contemporary dramatists like Beckett, Ibsen, and Chekhov were the first to indicate a “pause” in their scripts. Nobel Prize–winning playwright Harold Pinter became inextricably pinned to his dramatic use of silence, which was famously dubbed the “Pinter pause.” The pause was meant to convey unspoken dialog between sentences. In television drama, we’ve learned that the pause is code for a Big Reveal. In clowning and humor, the master delicately builds the pacing to tingle the audience’s spine. An old showbiz adage is: “Theater is the art of keeping the audience from coughing.”

The dramatic pause is also called a “pregnant pause”—and that might be the best description of this time of year in farmers’ fields. In between the last of the root crops and the planting of seedlings, it’s time to wait, ponder, and reflect on the next event. An intermission.

The East has been experiencing a wet and warm winter, which has farmers crossing their fingers that it doesn’t get so warm the tree buds think it’s spring already. “It either needs to freeze or dry up before we can get in there and plant cover crop,” says John Garretson of Beechwood Orchards in Biglerville, PA.

Photo courtesy of Beechwood Farms, Biglerville, PA

Winter in the West has had the agricultural audience on the edge of its seat. With exceptionally little rain for this time of year, farmers have had to irrigate. “This is the first time in 30 years that we’ve had to push water,” says Paul Miller of Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA. But farmers like Paul are making hay while the sun shines, “We’ve had the opportunity to disk fields—eliminate weeds and make the soil ready.”

In the Midwest, they call the four seasons “almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction,” and their winter has been a bit more typical. Farmers there continue the practice of setting up preserves and dry goods for the winter, repairing equipment and recharging their batteries.

Although the stage may be bare, the behind-the-scenes crew is working in the wings. Tuning up their tractors, primping the starlet seedlings, and training their spotlights for the season’s next big act.



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