As the sun dips its bright light beneath the western sky for the last time in August, I breathe a deep sigh of relief, thankful that this chapter of a season on the farm is in the books. For this magical adventure this year has been a series of so many firsts and exploration. The month of August stood in stark contrast, a reminder of past choices and the costs they would require. To every thing there is a season – a time to laugh, and a time to cry. August was that reminder to me of corners cut and tasks missed, a time to cry.
One of the most visible reminders of those choices were the weeds which took ample advantage of the opportunities available to them. Beds which should have been hoed back early in the season, but were allowed to ride were overflowing with an assortment of grasses, wildflowers and weeds. Row after row of perfectly weeded, clean beds overflowing with every color of the rainbow was my dream. Amber waves of grain the reality.
So many reasons that the weeds took over as they did, and that flowers were choked out by the intruders, but the constant reminder, the choices made early in the season. Landscape plastic which was perfectly wrapped on a neat spool in the barn, stayed that way throughout the season, even though it could have greatly reduced weed pressure. Hoeing that should have been done week to week, but that was put off in order to work on more pressing issues.
And while weeds were a frustrating reminder of a season of choices on the farm, I personally struggled with the choices I had made over a large season of my life – my weight and the impact on my ability to work the farm. Earlier this summer I had torn a large hole in my abdominal wall, and August was the appointed date for the surgery. For fear of tearing the hole larger, I sat as tasks which needed to be done, were passed or done by others. The surgery was painful, and the recovery has been equally painful. That time though has been a time of reflection of why this occurred, and the inevitable conclusion is a lifetime of choices that reflected the easy path.
After marriage, I gained a few pounds as most do. As children came, and work pressures mounted the inevitable 20 pounds ballooned to 40, then 60 and finally 80. Our nation was a nation of obese so there was no problem – I was normal. The choices were so obvious now – fast food, infrequent exercise, and a sedentary job. I am extremely thankful for the way so many things worked out – we have two beautiful, accomplished children, a career which resulted in influence and impact, and a wealth of friends that a bank portfolio could not measure.
Our lives are a series of choices – each leading to new paths. As we look back at the map of where we have come, and see each fork in the road we took, an awareness of the richness and fortune of our choices, as well as the limitations and consequences of choices takes hold.
As August fades from view in this season, I take heart in the fact that each new day brings with it new choices, and the opportunity to use all of this experience, both good and bad to shape the coming seasons. Each of us has responsibility for our choices, and each will enjoy both the joys and heartaches that come from those choices. No life, no season is complete without its share of both ups and downs. For in the valleys we find appreciation for the mountains.
The same chapter of Ecclesiastes which brings us that beautiful description of the seasons also includes this gem –
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
It is that knowledge that allows me to celebrate August for the incredible lessons that it has taught, and for the multitude of choices that September will bring.