Years ago I had the great fortune to live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I had a spacious yard and created a big garden, complete with fruit trees. A large old fig tree came with the house, and I added four apple trees, a plum tree, and a pear tree.
It was magical.
I learned quickly, though, that “magic” doesn’t happen without “hard work.” Some plants needed to be moved to a different spot. Sometimes I had to get up at dawn to remove worms from the apple trees. There was endless weeding, composting, deadheading, and pruning to be done. I’m not complaining, though. I loved it!
We don’t often equate “magical” with “hard work.” Yet in the garden, or on farms, both of these exist side by side. Since I live on the East Coast now and no longer grow my own food, I visit some of the local farms and “pick your own” to bring me back to the joy of the harvest.
One of my favorite places is Fishkill Farms, where varieties of fruit roll one into the next. The strawberries are nearly finished, but the raspberries are coming in. Blueberries won’t be far behind. In the fall I’ll pick apples for applesauce. I’ll never tire of watching seeds becoming plants and then bearing fruit. It’s nothing short of miraculous!
The farm is beautiful, with undulating hills filled with fruit trees and mountain views. Each week when I visit, I am reminded of the magic and miracles of growing things…but I also know the hard work and diligence that goes into creating this magic. Farmers put in long hours for not enough pay. One has to do this work for the love of it.
As I finish The Factory Girl and the Fey and prepare it for its next step, advance reviews, I have experienced magic throughout the process. This book has engaged my imagination as no other before…and yet the magic emerges in part because of regular, sustained attention to it, with lots of revision and editing and waking in the wee hours because I understood how to change something that wasn’t quite working. It has meant many revisions, multiple rounds of editing, and a bit of insomnia. The “fruit” will be ready for harvest in the fall.
My farm visits replenish my spirit, providing a kind of active rest for the brain, one strawberry at a time. I find peace there in between my own bouts of hard work, giving me fuel to continue. I am grateful to the committed farmers who work so hard to make all this magic, which then helps me make mine.