LAKE MACBRIDE— It was pitch dark when I arrived at the packing shed. Driving a 1970s-era Ford Econoline van, the previous three hours had been spent loading vegetables in it and another truck, and delivering them to CSA customers in nearby Iowa City and North Liberty. The wind was cold, but there have been worse, the customers were positive about the final fall share delivery, and the old vehicle served.
Supplementing starlight with my phone’s flashlight app, I found the light switch inside and turned it on to illuminate the area and unload and stack the empty crates and coolers and head home. The CSA season was over.
Proceeding cautiously on the icy gravel road, I made my way to the highway and turned south toward town. An email had reported the community well was broken, so I stopped at the grocery store and bought a gallon of water to use for cooking if needed. Resisting the temptation to purchase a frozen pizza for dinner, thoughts turned to what to make from food at home. The well had been repaired by the time I turned the kitchen faucet on. Dinner was a grilled cheese sandwich, a glass of cow’s milk and some oatmeal-raisin cookies from the store.
Instead of reflecting on the end of seasonal work, or depositing my paychecks, I went right to my queue of movies on Hulu. I started “Bob Dylan and the Band: Down in the Flood” and watched it straight through. I remember listening to copies of the bootlegged Dylan recordings at a friend’s home in high school. Downstairs is my copy of “Music from Big Pink,” purchased the day it arrived at the discount store in 1968. On the computer are tracks from the 2000 re-release of the album… I was enamored of the creative process of that music and that time, and still am. The film called up memories.
Memories are not about the past, but to help us live today… and tomorrow. I retired around 10:15 p.m. wondering what to do with memories from a time of youth, hope and promise. By morning it was clear. There is nothing to do but go on living.
Thanksgiving and the following weeks have become a time to work on a plan for the coming year— true especially after leaving full-time paid work for a corporation. There is a sense of receding into the landscape— a seduction of the active mind. The season is over, but the living goes on.
While youth has flown like a murder of crows annoyed by a brown fox preening in the sunlight, hope drives us toward new seasons, the uncertainty of which is tempered by experience, and a succession of cold nights like last night. Yes, it’s time to go on living.