Here it is November with that dry and dusty north wind that sometimes occurs to pile the leaves for us, to knock down the last of the acorns, and in general to blow away the last of the summer. The north wind of the fall, and for that matter, any north wind seems to be a bringer of change to the farm. During the north wind, things never seem quite right, which makes sense, because transition is often uncomfortable. North wind often brings a chill afterward, and it can be a good thing that we have all hunkered down away from the wind so we are ready for the cold that comes after.
I used to really hate the north wind for the chaos that came with it. Besides just naturally putting me on edge, it also took away everything that wasn’t tied down, tore plants to shreds, desiccated anything that wasn’t really well watered, made tarps and covers flap maddeningly, and generally made me feel powerless against it. I will look at the sky during a fierce north wind and instead of that inviting sleepy blue of the fall or the vibrant blue that comes on a luxuriant spring day, the sky is metallic, teeth grinding blue, kind of a wall just above my head, not inviting at all but instead dominating, limiting my ability to see any depth at all, very one dimensional. The suffering that it brings is visible, as trees shake and crack, birds fly so slowly forward and are blown away with the slightest flagging of strength or slightest miscalculation, to land exhausted, on some swaying branch whose movement may mask the movements of any predator below. I can feel the draining of the vitality of trees stressed to the limit of their ability to hang on to the moisture they need to survive, and with no way to move out of the madness.
At some point, I had to come to grips with the north wind, because I began to realize that it is not going anywhere, it will be with me as long as I’m in this wind tunnel of a Sacramento Valley, and I can’t spend my life angry every time the wind comes up.
I am thankful for the scouring, sanitizing quality of the north wind. Like a good sneeze, it blows away all the accumulated mess that grows in stagnant air. Our north wind brings fresh air from the northern reaches of the state. I am thankful for the north winds reminder to keep my ground covered with life, stabilizing, protecting, adapting as only living soil can. It shows me, with dust in my eyes, ears, and nose when I am not taking care. I am thankful for the promises of the day after the north wind, when everything slowly rights itself, life reinvigorates, and impossibly, it seems as if almost everything survives. I am surely thankful for the chance to learn how to adapt, to adjust physically and even more mentally, to things I cannot control.
This article is by Jeff Main, Farmer at Good Humus Produce, courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop