“The paths in our lives might begin with a single fork in the trunk of a tree at its base, but soon that fork has forks within forks until there are a thousand branches growing in different directions. The first paths aren’t even paths we chose; they are chosen for us. Some are hidden or at least unknown to us. Paths can twist and turn until we end up on a road we can’t find on a map or remember wanting to travel on. There we are, out on a limb, hanging on, and we can’t remember how we get there.” (The Way of Tea and Justice, Becca Stevens)
The above quote is from my current read by Becca Stevens. It is the best summation of my life. The year comes to a close with its usual “midnight shockers,” if you will. News circulates that Betty White passed, weeks before her 100th birthday celebration. The year has been full of twists, turns and forks in the roads less traveled, most of which were not planned.
We spent the week between Christmas and New Year in Orlando, Florida. Thinking hindsight, I wonder had I been privy to the current conditions would I have agreed to the plans. COVID numbers are surging, with Florida being one of the usual hotspots. Nonetheless, there was some rest, relaxation and recreation and I literally unplugged from it all. For the first time in our marriage, we spent New Year’s Eve in a hotel and on the road traveling on New Year’s Day.
The trip has been good. Like the current trajectory of my life, it took some twists and turns that I did not envision. It seems that there were some things, some hidden issues, some old scars of the heart that tractor girl had pushed under the rug that needed to be uncovered, processed, dealt with; issues that needed to be released before the start of The New. The Spirit, along with the new moon and the new year seemed to aid in making all said things come to surface. And so they did.
As we travel back to the Carolinas this New Year’s Eve, I think on how I would best sum up the year. I have described it in many ways. Yet the title that seems to keep coming to mind is, “Behind the Scenes.”
One fall afternoon, I sat with a dear friend, one of Farmer Asher's fans, having tea in my herb garden. We were discussing the great things he had on the horizon, and the topic came up: Behind the Scenes. I told him, I’m working on a blog, not knowing at the time when I would post it. We continued to inhale the herbal tea and reflect on all that was happening "behind the scenes."
Behind the Scenes: the summation of 2021 for tractor girl.
What can I say, the year 2021 was like nothing ever envisioned. There were and continues to be many plans in my heart; but YHWH’s purposes continue to prevail. I’ve likened my journey to stepping get into a river. With each step, new ripples are formed and I know not which way they will run. The road, and non-roads, less traveled is an understatement.
As I look back in gratitude, I embrace the hurdles and accomplishments. The year began in winter solstice, with time spent in hibernation: reading, writing, planting, planning and learning. I spent a lot of time in the green house. I love the winter and though we had less snow than I had hoped, I still enjoyed it. We saw the inauguration of a new president and the first black woman as vice president. We also witnessed one of the worst times in the country’s history that I have ever experienced, an insurrection on the capitol. White supremacist scaled the capitol and held politicians and those working as captive. It was almost like a scene from a dictatorship country. Since we were still struggling through the COVID pandemic, Asher was still being “homeschooled” if you will. I kept him every Tuesday. The time spent was priceless and means so much to me now, as he started school, for real, in August. Tractor girl did a lot to planning with short-sightedness, assuming 2021 would take on pre-pandemic form and began filling up the calendar, as has been done before.
March ushered in Spring and along with it came a little more activity. Plans to start the coffee truck back at North Grove did not quite materialize, as initially planned. Classes with UITC resumed and we began our first classes with Boys and Girls club with Cooley Springs. I received my first grant. The grant allowed us to renovate the kitchen and the back porch into an herb drying room at Thadora Farms. The Spring also afforded us a couple of baby showers. Garlic planted in the fall at Thadora Farms was looking really promising, and plans began to increase herbal plantings. And once again, one of tractor girl's plans to resume "pre-pandemic" activities was upended.
Summer buzzed in as excited honey bees on a warm day. Plantings at all farm locations were doing great. How I found the time to manage a few farms and a few garden beds is beyond my comprehension. But the work was outside and refreshing to say the least and good for the soul. We found a few days to get away at the start of the summer, planning it before the garlic harvest and the entrance of Farmer Maggie in June and Farmer Ayla in July.
The fall took on quite a different look than planned; my calendar has the cross-outs to prove it. As we prepared for year end harvests, we also begin making preparations for commitments made earlier in the year. Plans to resume our normal pre-pandemic events, again thinking that things were back to “pre-pandemic” state. As I reflect on all the schedule disruptions, a Bible study lesson I taught came to mind: “What will your post pandemic self look like?” Tractor girl had to reteach herself. COVID numbers just weren’t decreasing as they should, so began the cancellation of many events scheduled for the fall. It seemed my desire to get back to pre-pandemic state was not as important as what The Spirit wanted to do, post-pandemic.
A women’s retreat that I was to speak at, cancelled.
The Garlic Festival in Asheville that I had planned to attend, cancelled.
An event in October that I was making preparations for, cancelled.
These cancellations made me reconsider the two remaining commitments. And though preparations were already underway for those commitments and monies already spent, tractor girl chose the road less traveled and cancelled them.
With major events cancelled and preparations halted, tractor girl literally sat and twiddled her thumbs, wondering what to do with herself. Gardening activities were coming to a halt and plans to take advantage of the holiday seasons were not coming to fruition.
In the midst of this I heard The Spirit say, "not yet", for there is still much work to do "behind the scenes". There is much healing and restoration that still needs to take place within tractor girl, even as we speak. So, against my wishes, I hunkered down and worked on those things inside. I worked behind the scenes.
The year continued to unfold interestingly, and as I turned my focus inwardly, The Spirit was working all things, seen and unseen, together for my good.
The weekend that was intended for one of the events cancelled was used to have our first Garlic Planting Festival at Thadora Farms. We coupled it with a surprise party for my dad. The outcome was more than anyone ever thought.
As tractor girl worked behind the scenes, destiny sent a young soul into my shop, looking for “her place” who eventually became my first employee. The coffee truck resumed operation at North Grove.
A sweet relative volunteered her time to help me process herbs harvested.
There was a lot that took place "behind the scenes" at The CoffeeLady31, Thadora Farms and the other farms and gardens which have been entrusted to our care. Classes, counseling, planting, sharing, giving. Some of which we made public, most of which we did not.
There was a lot that took place "behind the scenes" in tractor girl. Some laughing and crying, planting and plowing, success and failures; most of which were not made public.
And maybe, just maybe, the work behind the scenes is to teach us to embrace all of it. All things will not be good all the time and all things will not be bad all the time. Ecclesiastes best coined it, "to everything there is a season."
The walk into our purpose has very little to do with what we propose to be the outcome and everything to do with the learning that occurs along the way. It has everything to do with what is happening "behind the scenes."
New year resolutions? No, I don't do them. But, what i propose to do, with as much as lies within me, is to enjoy the journey. Maybe if we do the required work behind the scenes, we can declare all times to be the best of times.
Happy New Year!