I love the warm afternoons and the cold crisp nights. I love the colours of the morning sunrises and the splendor of the sunsets over the mountains.
I love the trees as they change from their summer wardrobe of green to their fall colours of yellows, oranges and reds. I love the fall foods and the familiar smells of apples baking in pies, and soups simmering on stovetops. Some years, when I am really on my game, I can transport myself back to my childhood, to my Grammie’s kitchen to the scent of beets being pickled and corn being made into relish.
Even though the pace of this season can be hectic with activities and schools all celebrating their own New Year, there is still a sense of gentleness about us. Cozy sweaters and jackets remind us to care for ourselves and to take time to examine our crops and our harvest.
When I was biking through the foothills last week, we crested a hill and were treated to a most spectacular vista; a rolling field, dotted with hundreds and hundreds of large round bales of hay. There were three green tractors working together to finish off the fall job of baling hay.
This might be my most favourite sight of all; farmers, most likely neighbours and friends too, working together to reap what one of them had sown early in the spring. No doubt when this field was finished, they’d have a little chat, maybe go up to the house for some lunch and then move on to the next field. This picture of the tractors, bales of hay and fields, represents the best of what it means to be a friend, a co-worker a neighbour, a support and a fellow-traveller.
I don’t know the word for this feeling. Contentment comes to mind. As do peace, community and kindness.
Farmers don’t have a lot of choice about when they will harvest their crop. The weather of the seasons dictates the planting, the watering, the tending and the reaping. During the Fall season farmers take the final tally of their year’s work. Some years, despite every effort on their part, despite proper planting and watering, despite loving care, the crop does not fulfill all of its potential. Other years, the farmer may not be as attentive and yet still yield an abundant crop. Always, the farmer harvests what she can, considers possible changes and has gratitude for the fruits of her labour.
What a most valuable lesson for the rest of us.
We often get so busy with the quick pace of life we have created for ourselves, we forget to stop and notice the little seasons of our lives, and to give thanks for our abundant harvest. Some of our seasons are obvious, like those in which we raise our families. During these, there are some natural harvesting moments when we stop to look back; before a child enters school for the first time, when we hand over the keys to the family car to a sixteen year old, when a seven year old loses teeth, or when we accompany a daughter or son on their walk up the aisle.
However, many of the seasons we have are less obvious and it’s easy to let them pass us by without ever even getting on our tractors, taking a trip around the field and noticing the fruits of our labours.
When a friend unexpectedly drops by or gives us a call, it is easy to think about the interruption this is to our carefully planned day, instead of noticing that it is really the reaping of the seeds of friendship we have sown.
When a co-worker stops by our office to ask our advice, it is easy to let our minds wander to the idea of how we will have to work late to make up the time, rather than enjoy the harvest of trust we have planted.
When we are invited to a social event, it is easy to imagine it as a command performance, one that is cutting into our precious personal time, rather than noticing that the connections we planted long ago, are only now bearing their fruit.
This past month, our son Greg put the finishing touches on his final thesis for his PhD. He and Cara have moved back to Calgary. It has been a long, long time since Greg lived in our city. Cara has never lived here. As I was thinking about their arrival, and the wonderful change it will bring to our family, I ‘hopped on my tractor’ to take a little evening drive to look over my crops and appreciate our harvest.
I am so grateful to have our whole little family nearby. The seeds of this family were planted in many corners of our country, from Nova Scotia to Alberta. For now, they have taken root and are growing here. I am most grateful to be able to enjoy every part of this, both the parts I had a hand in watering, and the parts that have been most graciously shared with me.
Both of our children have married partners who are supportive, kind, loving and present. Both come from families who have welcomed our children into their families. I will never have the words to express my gratitude to Cara’s mom and dad, Sharon and Dan, for becoming Greg’s family and for providing him with endless family moments to be part of while he lived close to them in Ontario. This is a harvest I can take no credit for. I did not plant the seeds of their kindness, but I am very, very blessed to get to share in the harvest of their love.
Sometimes we have an abundant harvest we can share with others; sometimes we cannot possibly harvest our whole crop by ourselves and we need help; sometimes we can help others get their crop in before the weather changes; sometimes we are lucky enough to allow others to share their harvest with us.
May you take the time to appreciate the yield of your crop this harvest season.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What am I harvesting?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to appreciate the harvest season.