The Winter Sun

Farmer Voices

The Winter Sun

By Rufus Haucke 0

It’s always darkest before the dawn, and I enter the crisp morning air which seems to bring out the sparkle of each brilliant point of light overhead. The warm, yellow, rosy colors of the approaching morning spread ever so slowly north and south across the horizon, but not beyond. Slowly a ray or two begins to stretch westward, then without much fanfare, a deep golden, almost ruby ball of light slides past the horizon. Lately we have been blessed with clear skies for days on end and so this process repeats unbroken as if deja vu has taken over the process.

I find our winter sun a lovely companion. You can still feel its warm rays on your skin but it doesn't overwhelm, only reminds you of its power even when it only has a quarter of its strength. The ancients lived in reverence or fear of its power. They knew the Sun as a god; it brought heat which grew plants, cured meat, warmed their bodies. It also brought drought, famine, fire. They built buildings in its honor and tracked its yearly path through their skies.

For this farmer, I am always caught by surprise when I realize the sun is setting around 4:30 p.m., or when I am waking the kids up for school and it is still dark outside. All of a sudden this lazy winter sun is signaling to me it is time to take it easy. Time to slow down the hectic pace we have been on since June.

Now I take my time sipping coffee in the morning. We read aloud around the table, often my father reading to the rest of us. I revel in these moments. After a year of gardening I feel as if I have earned the right to slow down. In this sense I feel a kinship with the sun. During the summer months we arrive at our new day early and leave it late, spurring growth, life, the fruits and flowers of our next meal. As we close in on the shortest days of the year, we enter our days of reflection. I will spend a lot of time around that table. I will begin to look back on my notes from the past year, and I will begin to plan.

Like any farmer, the sun doesn’t stay lazy forever, soon enough the planting days will return and the process will start anew.

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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