First Frost

Farmer Voices

First Frost

By Rufus Haucke | Photo By Jim Klousia 0

I awoke early as usual because, well, that’s what farmers are supposed to do, right? On this particular morning, though, I was anxious to see the first frost. I love how the first couple frosts sparkle in the morning sun and how it clings to the shadow while rapidly changing from ice to steam as the day moves forward.

I grab my coffee and hastily dress. I want to feel that crisp air on my cheeks. I want to stand in the sun, the front of my body facing the glow, sucking up those warm rays. As I look down the valley I can see the frost deepen. Overnight the cold air seeped downhill, filling in those lower elevations, settling in around the trees, clinging to the half dead grass and brush. 

After taking a minute to enjoy the warmth of the sun, I decide to get a closer look and so I extend my stroll down into the valley. Now the sun has crested our far eastern hillside and has begun to shine in the valley I walk through. For the brief moment before ice turns back into water, the ground sparkles like a million diamonds. The view is breathtaking, a momentary reminder if the staggering beauty of this earth.

In the silence of the morning one can hear the world thawing. It starts with the sound a footfall makes on the grass below one’s feet. The crunch of a frosty step turns into a less audible swish of boots moving through a thick dew. If you pause for a moment you can hear the water freshly released from its frozen prison dripping down to soak the ground.

My walk takes me to the edge of the forest, where now the frost that once covered all the ground has been reduced to the shadows of a cluster of white pine. It forms a perfect frosty outline of the forest profile, constantly shrinking, relinquishing its icy grasp to this day.

This is Wisconsin and our transition to winter has begun. We live in a land of seasons, and these changes are what has drawn me here. I live a life intimately tied to our yearly cycle, and to me it is all worth celebrating. Soon enough I will hibernate and dream of the year to come. 

Rufus Haucke has been producing organic vegetables, fruits and herbs on his family’s land in the beautiful Driftless region of Wisconsin since 2004, when he took over as owner of Keewaydin Farms. His stomach brought him home to the farm he grew up on, where the table fare was, more often than not, picked from the gardens minutes before. That freshness of flavor and beauty of color keeps him passionate about sharing his food experiences with others.

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