The piecemeal disassembling of patios has begun in our downtown. The farmers’ market is still in full colour with the happy additions of the apple season, but soon we’ll be walking there on frosty mornings. There was a time when I used to puzzle away at how to keep the city alive in the long winter. After such an intense spring and summer though, I’m looking forward to a few months of winter recovery. For me, the shorter days come with more reasonable work hours, cooking more meals at home, and counterintuitively getting more exercise. We barely leave the city in the winter, except for family visits in the holiday season. It’s a time to reflect and work through the harvest of months before.

In fact, I’ve so much come to embrace the seasonality of my work that it’s given me a cheery outlook on what could be described as job insecurity. Much of my work is freelance or project-based. I love it other than the constant ambiguity of when and how you’ll be paid next. Seeing my life as that of a farmer has helped me find peace in this lifestyle. For one, my work is largely seasonal, in that the most visible and exciting stuff floods in from May to October. Throughout the winter months, my work looks a lot more like research and reflection, preparation, and a time to catch up on video editing. The other reason I’ve begun to think more like a farmer is that it’s a frame of mind tied to place. This analogy has a growing number of applications in Strong Towns thinking, from Joe Minicozzi’s urban acreage to Monte Anderson’s small scale development farm (which John Anderson recently shared on his blog).

Thinking like a farmer and walking our “fields” so to speak is the best way to understand how to improve it. As Wendell Berry writes,

The gait most congenial to agrarian thought and sensibility is walking. It is the gait best suited to paying attention, most conservative of land and equipment, and most permissive of stopping to look or think. Machines, companies, and politicians “run.” Farmers studying their fields travel at a walk.
— Wendell Berry

And so I look forward to the slower months ahead and contemplative walks through my neighbourhood. It has been a good season, one that has given me lots to think about.

Here is a photographic follow-up on some of my experiments from the sunny days past.

Front Yard Garden

Earlier, I wrote about digging up some grass in front of my apartment to plant a small edible garden (ostensibly run by some little pigs for the benefit of the kids). It worked out really well. I just pulled out a successful squash plant and put in the garlic bulbs for next year. There were a ton of suckers emerging from a stump at the centre of the plot that I’ve hopefully pruned into the possibility of another tree.

The Stumps

After the stumps were evicted from their initial location, I was happy to run into a food truck on a dead block of downtown. I saw that the owner had virtually no seating so I asked if he’d like the stumps for the summer. He came to pick them up a day later and they’ve been enjoyed heavily on lunch breaks. I’ll remove them if it appears they are outwearing their welcome.

Block Party

A neighbour and I had been tossing around the idea of a block party to celebrate some traffic calming installations that the neighbourhood had spent years working toward. She sent me a message a few weeks ago to say we can’t let the summer escape without doing that block party, and so that was a wonderful sendoff to end the season.