May-Be and May-Be Not

Wow! What a spring we’ve been having this year. Between the quarantine, social distancing, empty grocery stores and chaotic weather (lookin’ at you, May blizzards) it’s been a heck of a season. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air — when will the virus end, when will it be safe to see our loved ones, when will it finally be warm, and, for us personally, will there be apples this year? I joked with my husband that we call it “May” because it’s a month of maybes and maybe nots.

May snowfall is certainly an unwelcome visitor in the orchard. Right now our buds are swelling and ready to pop into the gorgeous and fragrant white petal fairy tale we know and love. It’s a magical time in the trees. The bees are happily buzzing while delicate white and blushing pink petals fall softly on a bed of rich green grass, lightly dotted with golden dandelions. I think I am looking forward to it more than ever this year. It’s a heartwarming reminder that despite all, life moves along and if we take time to notice, we will see hope bloom right in front of us. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to protect this time. It isn’t just beautiful — these blossoms hold the promise of a harvest. Freezes, frosts, snow — they are all a threat to the success of both bloom health and pollination. I’ve explained it many times: no blooms, no apples.

The last week has us, as I put it, white-knuckling our nights. We anxiously watch the temperature drop and pray that there are enough variables to come out in our favor. So far, we are doing okay. Loss is always to be expected, but we are eternally grateful when it doesn’t go too far. My husband and I have spent some nights fretting about what we will do if there’s no harvest this year. We worry about our daughter and our parents and have even wondered if maybe we should go out and do a moon dance just on the off chance it could help. My mother-in-law brought us back into focus, reminding me that the farm is our sanctuary and whatever happens, we will figure it out as a farm family. You could say, we are in this together.

I’m a big believer in life lessons from the farm. There’s much to be said for hard work, love of the land, trust in a benevolent God and a family that works and plays together. The long hours yield great things and it’s because of those great things that we continue on. We do what we have to, we do what we need to, we look out for each other, we respect the ways of things, and we always, always keep the faith.

We have stood here and watched the snow fall on our tender buds and the next day, we continue our work because we know there is still hope and giving up is just not in our blood. In this new world we live in, I know it’s getting harder. We can’t see our families, we can’t go out for dinner. My daughter turns 1 this month and there won’t be a birthday party with her family. Masks are uncomfortable and hand sanitizer is smelly. I just want to remind you that this is a spring snowfall. There are tender blooms beneath this, a reminder that life is continuing on and pretty soon, we will be standing in a fairy tale blossom. So, keep the faith, do the things you need to so that when the fall comes, it won’t be just a fresh apple you’ll be enjoying.

Submitted by Sara Frank, who serves on the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau Board of Trustees and helps run Cold Springs Orchards with her family.

 

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