June 28, 2020

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Written by John Dysinger

Dramatic Sky Over The Farm

In Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities, he begins his book with the line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” Now, I will admit to having never read the book, but what a great line to describe our spring of 2020!

Within a few short weeks, our world changed forever, and it’s easy to look back on what used to be with a bit of nostalgia. But, the changes are not all bad! I would like to enumerate a few of the changes that I see as positive:

The Best of Times (On a global and national scale):

  1. COVID-19 has forced us to slow down. With all the travel and event cancellations, life has gotten a lot simpler — and dare I say saner? It has given time to stop and smell the roses.
  2. Families have been forced to live together. Now, I realize this could be a good or bad thing, but it should be a good thing! Meals at home, “home schooling”, Dad (and/or mom) working from home, time to play games as a family....
  3. “Green time” has become more popular. With all the evidence that COVID-19 is less transmissible outside, it has encouraged many to get outdoors — which is always a good thing.
  4. Gardening has experienced a big time comeback. Yes, I think a lot of people were unnerved to go to the grocery store and find staple items out of stock — for an extended period of time. So, many are taking back control of their “food security” and growing more of what they eat. This is healthy in so many ways: for the planet, for our bodies, for our souls, and even for our pocketbooks.
  5. For those who aren’t gardening, local, sustainable farms have become a go-to place to get fruits and veggies. This is almost as big a win as growing it yourself. The small farm movement is booming, and that is good for almost everyone (except, I guess, for the giant corporations that want to control all of us).
  6. We’ve all been forced to re-analyze our priorities. Are we involved in “essential industries”? Have our lives been “out-of-control”? Do we know (and enjoy) our families as much as we should? Are we taking time for what really counts? Are we ready to die if COVID-19 takes us? (Okay, I know that’s a little heavy, but it’s a reality.)
  7. In addition, we have all been forced to examine our consciences as we have been faced with the harsh realities of systemic racial injustice. This is a good reckoning, but not always easy. Are we a part of the problem or the solution?
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The Best of Times (On a Bountiful Blessings Farm scale):

  1. Business is up incredibly. Our goal has always been to serve our customers, and it is very gratifying to be able to serve in these uncertain times. A big thank you to all of you who are supporting us in doing what we’ve been called (and love) to do. Our customers have been especially appreciative this spring!
  2. We’ve had amazing spring weather! Other than when it was frosting or blowing (see “worst of times” section), the weather has been incredible. Our spring produce has never done better!
  3. We’ve got a great group of interns who are working hard and staying positive and upbeat in the face of many unprecedented (the spring’s most overused word) circumstances.

But, unfortunately, it’s also the worst of times. I’m not sure I need to say much on this — since the nightly news does such a good job of keeping this before us.

On a global and national scale, suffice it to say that the cost in human lives and economic chaos has been staggering. Fear and uncertainty seem to be overwhelming the masses. The future has never looked so questionable (at least in my 57 year memory).

John In The Mud

The Worst of Times (On a Bountiful Blessings Farm scale):

  1. In spite of the overall amazing spring weather, we have had more weather-related challenges than at any other time in our 22 year farm history. Wind storms have partially destroyed two hoop houses, two caterpillar tunnels, and taken the plastic off another hoophouse twice! Excessive rain at times rotted large numbers of strawberries (Praise the Lord we had a great crop, so the losses were not devastating), late spring frosts (in May!) caused lots of additional work — trying to keep things from freezing, and also caused us to get things planted later than normal.
  2. After years of work to get our irrigation system just how we wanted it, we had a major catastrophe at our pond, which caused the whole pond to drain — leaving our irrigation system high and dry (literally). Praise the Lord, we were able to scramble and get an auxiliary option in place, but it has not been without a lot of extra work and expense.
  3. Without going into more details, we have just had a string of personal and farm-related challenges that have stretched our faith and our pocketbook. There have been many times when I have struggled to stay positive.

So there, in a nutshell, are a few of the reasons why spring of 2020 fits with Dicken’s description. The question we each have to grapple with is, where is our focus? Are we overwhelmed with all the facts that make this the “worst of times”, or are we choosing (sometimes completely by faith) to see the “silver linings”, the many things, both big and small, that also make this the “best of times”? I want to choose the latter. How about you? I Choose to claim God’s promise, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” Romans 8:28 That makes even the worst of times the best of times!