The Last Harvest

The year is winding down to a close. How did that happen? Where does the time go? Another year, rapidly wrapping itself up. Parts of this post would have been better a month ago, but they are sentiments I wanted to share after my hiatus this fall. It has been a year of change, struggle, blessings, joy, and so much else.

Christmas is tomorrow, and it will be the first Christmas without Grandma. Leading up to Grandma passing away in April, and ever since, there has been the anticipation of impending change. As long as Grandma was with us, we had a home here, but as often happens in situations of family property, the property will need to sell, and our home here will be gone. That’s a fact I try not to dwell on, and the LORD has graciously given me a peace about that, which years ago I never expected. But whether we have another 8 months or 2 years here, the feeling of settledness isn’t there. I know change is on its way.

Through much of this year, there has been the faintly bitter, wistful knowledge of the inevitable “last time.” The sense that the wanderings on the property this summer or fall may indeed have been “the last time” I’d comb for wildflowers or ramble among our trees or scramble our hills. Putting up a Christmas tree in our cabin may have been “the last time” we’d enjoy that tradition here. I anticipate a sweet sorrow tomorrow on Christmas as we celebrate, quite possibly, “our last Christmas here.”

That knowledge is heavy with sadness, though also light with anticipation. God will provide. He always does. And it is always better than I could imagine.

But this heaviness has driven me to remember and to do and to be. There have been things I’ve deliberately done in order to not miss doing them one last time. For instance, when the apple trees down the hill from Mom and Dad’s were heavy with fruit this fall, I knew we needed to harvest them. It doesn’t take overly long to pick two trees worth of fruit, and we shook those apples down, filling a couple of good sized buckets. The apples were delicious, and became apple butter and apple crisp.

Picking apples from Grandpa’s trees likely was our last harvest from those trees. And it was the best harvest of all the years we’ve been here. God is so good.

As 2019 wraps up and comes to a close, I anticipate that this time next year I will have moved on, either elsewhere in the Black Hills or elsewhere altogether. My life here on the family property has been like an apple tree ripe, laden with fruit. The fruit setting on the tree are those memories and experiences that are shaping who I am, those blessings that God has set beautifully among the spreading branches, that have made up the beauty and color and flavor of my life here.There has been fruit that has grown and ripened that is specifically the result of living here, fruit ranging from the sweetness of deepened family relationships to the zesty excitement of a new direction vocationally. Had I been living elsewhere, without the backdrop of the Hills (particularly my little corner of it) to awaken my imagination to new possibilities, to spark ideas and creative pursuits, to challenge me physically, to grow me spiritually, or had I beem living in a place that drained me financially, I might be in a very different place from where I am now.

Life is like an orchard, each tree a different chapter in our lives. It is sad to think that this year here may be the last year to be harvesting from this beautiful little tree I’ve been enjoying for the last five years.But it has been a good harvest. A sweet harvest.