Spring’s Harvests

Although some of the trees still appear dormant, my feral almond tree’s new leaves have already pushed the petals from the blossoms. (Trudy Wischemann)
Local writer of the column 'Notes From Home'

In most agricultural regions, spring is not a time for harvest. But here in the citrus belt, the hardworking people in picking crews are busily bringing in the sheaves.

So much has changed. Before the growers began pushing navels 20 years ago, those workers would be hauling ladders around the groves. The clanking sounds of the ladder trucks going over the tracks near my house would tell me harvest is underway. The roar of the packinghouses’ cooling systems and conveyor belts, the smell of the fruit, the sight of the women walking to work with their lunch coolers were all part of the citrus belt spring harvest scene. 

No more. The ladders aren’t as needed in the smaller mandarin and lemon trees. The fruit is hauled somewhere else to be packed mechanically. Not one packinghouse is still running, not here in Lindsay at least. The familiar sights and sounds of spring’s harvest in town have disappeared as has the town’s economic connection to the land.

I’m grateful, though, to be close enough to groves to see the work underway. It generates an energy in me that nothing else does, an energy based in hope. That energy got me outside this past weekend, when it warmed to t-shirt weather and I could begin moving freely around my yard.

One of the first things I noticed was that Mother Earth had harvested the seeds dropped by last year’s crop of golden fiddleneck that grew abundantly along the curve of my front sidewalk. Last year I let that rowdy band of wildflowers stand long past its attractive state, hoping the seed would be captured and stored. Now the new, wider band is appearing through the grasses, overtaking the foxtails. Among them are several other tiny unidentified wildflowers I’ve come to love through the years. With my weedeater I started selectively pruning the grasses I don’t want, leaving the wildflowers to bear witness to Earth’s goodness.

Seeing the wildflower harvest underway caused me to look at the other plants differently. Although some of the trees still appear dormant, my feral almond tree’s new leaves have already pushed the petals from the blossoms. Some shrubs have shot new stems and leaves a foot beyond where I pruned them a month ago. The untamed vines of the seedless Thompson grape are bending green, moving toward their next fruit-bearing season. From these other residents of my home place, I suddenly realized that they have been busy harvesting nutrients from the soil, watered by adequate rain while I hunkered down inside. The earth is always in harvest cycle.

And what of us? What are we harvesting right now? Our political system is attempting to harvest our votes for candidates to become our elected representatives, as well as on key funding issues for present conditions in need of fixing. Our children, and their children, will harvest the bills for those choices we make—but perhaps they will have fewer of the problems we’re trying to address. It’s always hard to know what next spring’s harvest will be. We do our best to cut the weedy information out and leave the truths standing, hoping to seed the future with improvement. We pray Mother Earth will do the rest.

But what of her? Reading an autobiography of the psychiatrist /anti-nuke activist Robert J. Lifton called “Witness to an Extreme Century,” I’ve become aware of the subconscious earthly reality my generation has inhabited for our entire lives. We are the first generation to know nothing else. It is the reality of potential imminent extinction, whether quickly by nuclear warfare or slowly through climate change. The threat of extinction is not just to our species, but to the entire planet and its other residents on which we depend.

The threat is also to love. We withdraw our love from that which we feel unable to protect. Perhaps this factor more than any other can explain the disastrous, land-destroying wars and economic exploitation of natural resources that we continue to experience worldwide.

Maybe we can become more like the trees. Sow our seeds of love, feed and water them continuously with the same celestial energy, roots reaching deep, branches moving skyward. Become committed to next spring’s harvest with every cell in our bodies. Our harvest will be hope.

Trudy Wischemann is a tree-hugger who writes. Send her your sowing/harvesting ideas c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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