Do Farmers go on Holiday?

A very thick fog has settled in our area.  I’m not used to so much fog, and neither is the dog.  Early morning walks and especially the late evening walks through the farmer fields make the dog a little anxious.  Now that it has rained throughout the night the fog has cleared, but I am sure it will return soon.  I appreciate the fog when the temperature drops and it appears that the fog is freezing and falling from sky, or it attaches itself to skeletal shapes of leafless trees and bushes.  Even ones own breath blows out and looks to freeze and drop to the ground to join the swirl of fog.

The light from street lamps are fuzzy blurs at worst, and at best the light beams highlight the swirls of fog that blow around like a Canadian snowdrift.  In just a dozen or so steps into one of the many surrounding farm fields you can easily loose all sense of direction as any directional lights start to disappear with every step away from buildings and roads.  While your vision subsides the noises seem to grow more intense.

The other night as I walked with the dog through this soupy fog we were both suddenly shocked to see a huge farm tractor appear beside us in one of the fields with a large plow lowered to turn over the soil.  With only lights on in the front of the tractor we felt the effects of the rumbling machine before we had the chance to see it clearly.

Truly the farmer never seems to take a break.  A field recently harvested is quickly turned over and reseeded with the next crop.  Over the year it seems that the cycle goes something like this: grain, maize, feldsalat (a tiny little lettuce that is harvested by many workers on their hands and knees).  Then there is some kind of root, or tuber vegetable that is simply mixed into the soil as a natural fertilizer.  There are other food crops and non-food crops, but the same thing applies…they are always doing something in the fields.

Most of the local farmers are people with ‘regular’ jobs on top of their family farm so that when work is done in a 9 to 5 job, the evenings are spent either sowing, or harvesting.

One of the only fields around our house that is still sitting (as far as I can tell) fallow with a fertilizer crop waiting to be plowed into the ground is home to a pair of Ring Neck Pheasants.  The dog usually keeps off the fields as there are plenty of field mice to catch on the edges and borders of the fields, yet the other day in the misty evening fog the dog ran back along the dirt road looking like someone who has realized they’ve just missed an item in the last aisle they passed in the grocery store.  A new sound, or smell has directed him to the edge of the field and on instinct he plunges into the frost covered greenery and bounds like a dolphin would at sea.  Then, Whoosh! a pheasant hen takes to the air and skims the plants with a zigzag flight only to disappear into the fog at the other end of the field.  With determination the dog keeps looking and soon a large male pheasant complete with a beautiful long tail shoots out of the plants a few metres away from where I am standing on the roadside.  Along with the zigzag flight he adds his own scolding clucking as he too disappears the same way his mate did a few seconds earlier.

Winter fog has obscured my vision, but it has also helped to make some things clear.  The farmer never stops, and nature will always surprise.

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Ghostly horses graze in a frost covered field.

Another View on Another Advent

The expectation of both the birth of the Christ child, and the second coming of the Messiah echo through the liturgical year.  Advent is ever present in the local news as televised German news broadcasts have Advent wreaths burning just off to the sides of the newscasters desks.

While Advent brings the new liturgical year there are somethings that remain constant.  I’m glad to say that things are beginning to repeat themselves and I don’t feel like I am climbing such a steep learning curve.

The learning curve isn’t declining for all people however.  My final (I hope) language and integration class was spent trying to moderate the religious freedoms represented in Germany.  Being the only person that has had opportunity to read a lot of different scriptures from a variety of faiths it made some sense that I would navigate the final discussion on faith and religion.  With even a wide variety of Christian denominations and traditions being represented, along with followers of Islam, Buddhism and an Atheist the discussion was curious as people seemed to discover a new curiosity.

The first Sunday in Advent had Bishop Robert Innes presiding over the Eucharist and Confirming three of the youth in the Anglican Church in Freiburg.  Bishop Robert was able to speak about confirmation as a commitment.  This commitment is certainly true, and is contrary to many feeling that confirmation as a ‘graduation’ for many youth to now leave the life of church community.

While we continue to wait with pregnant expectation this Advent, I also hope that we might rediscover the curiosity of those who are witnessing the freedom of religion in a new country.  As I write, the church is preparing a two day Advent Prayer Path where several members of the church have creatively made prayer stations that will certainly awaken our Advent curiosity and help us not to hear an ever fainter echo of Advent, rather a resounding renewal of what it means to see Advent with renewed passion and commitment.