Apprentice course member Betsy Thomas wrote this essay for the UCSC Farm’s CSA newsletter
Notes from the Field
Having spent part of my childhood and most of my adult life on the east coast, I grew accustomed to autumn announcing itself dramatically, with a fanfare of brilliant colors and a sudden, palpable crispness in the air. Autumn officially arrived last Thursday, but after three years of living on the central coast of California, I have learned that the seasons change far more subtly here.
As September begins, the fog lifts more readily in the mornings, giving way to the warmest days of the year. Some welcome mornings the sun rises through a fogless sky, a splendor of oranges and pinks. The light begins to wane earlier with each passing day and gradually becomes less intense, gentler. And as the nights grow cooler, the sky remains clear more often than not, displaying at last its brilliance of stars. Indeed, the transition is subtle in comparison, but no less significant or any less worthy of celebrating. And what better way to celebrate than by enjoying the seasonal food harvested from the fields right here at the UCSC farm!
We are finally enjoying an abundance of the long-awaited, vine-ripened tomatoes and flavorful peppers. And because of our unique climate, we are still savoring the sweetness of summer strawberries even as we begin to gather the winter squash from where it has been curing in the field. As the seasons change, life on the farm shifts with it.
We planted the final beds of the season with cool weather veggies to be harvested over the next few months, while many of the surrounding fields will be sown with cover crop in the coming weeks and left to rest until next spring. Soon even the strawberry beds will be turned under, and new beds will be prepared and planted with tiny, miraculous strawberry crowns that will wait patiently for winter to pass.
Life in the community of the apprentices is changing, too, as we strive to find a balance between being fully present for the final weeks of the program and looking ahead to what is next. We are thankful for the opportunity and privilege of living, learning, and working together here, and it will not be easy to leave. But as surely as the winter passes and the spring returns, we will each move forward and find the next steps in our journey. For the moment, though, we will savor the gifts of autumn and the even more precious gift of our belonging in this community.