Sadly, as we were busy embracing the New Year at Orchard House, on New Years Day, we lost an immediate family member. As we continue to grieve his loss, I am reminded of the cycle of birth and death ever present in our daily lives.
Although we may be blanketed in snow, underground seedling are preparing for their spring assault. They will push through the earth, soak up as much sun and water as possible, and then either feed another living being or fall back to the ground, only to sustain another generation of plants to emerge next year.
On the farm, our animals are brought to us with a purpose in mind. The Orchard House menagerie are here to live out their lives at pasture. Every season, babies may be born and elderly animals grow slightly frailer. Nothing is permanent on the farm. We are constantly changing with every new season and every new year. We are reminded most cruelly of this cycle when a family member passes. Beloved mothers and fathers, our grandparents, and even trusted companions that have slept by our sides for years will eventually succumb to the inevitable.
While to some this may be tragic, I see hope. Every year, a new season will welcome newborns into the world, seed a farrow meadow with wildflowers, and bring the promise of a year better than the last. I recently heard a man describe the power of an earthquake that destroyed his house. “It reminds you of how small you really are.” We may have met 2011 under a cloud of sorrow and pain, but there are greater forces at work in our lives. We celebrate the longevity and creativity of a life lost, and understand a bit more the wisdom of our past generations. We will emerge richer, with a renewed commitment to live our lives as if every day were a new year.
Rest in peace Leon. The choirs of heaven are now stronger by one glorious operatic baritone.