The day after I posted my seasonal reflections in End of Summer, we had some friends over who presented us with a jar of pickled beans from their garden. Not only had I never considered pickling beans, I quickly realized that pickling is a typical seasonal activity to preserve the harvest’s bounty, an activity that is irrelevant to me as someone isolated from the realities of agricultural production and food preservation.
The time I was getting melancholy about has traditionally been celebrated with harvest festivals, as the bounty of a new harvest signalled that you’d made it through another year. Last year’s stores saw you through; hopefully this years’ will too!
I’m not wistful for those days. Our forebears were “connected to nature,” but they were also at its mercy, and nature is at best indifferent–and often hostile–to humanity. Agriculture itself was an attempt to mitigate against nature’s capriciousness with more predictable sources of food, and modern industrial agriculture has continued that impulse. But these gains come with a cost, not least of which is my own disconnect from the cycles of planting and harvest when I wax poetic about my appreciation for the cycle of seasons.