The seed catalogs have already begun to arrive in the mail, even though the new year has not yet dawned and spring is still months away, but as I leaf through the brightly colored pages, I am once again filled with a wonderful feeling of excited anticipation.

I really believe that this is the year that the creek valley soil will work up just right, neither too wet nor too dry, and that as soon as our sowing is done, the rain will fall gently, and every single seed will sprout.

I feel quite certain that this is the year that light rains will fall all throughout the summer, watering our gardens and crops ever so perfectly, all the way up until the fall’s harvest.

I also believe that this will be the year when the mother fox will move her den farther down the creek, and she will no longer visit the upper field to stalk our chickens.

This year, when we return home from running errands uptown, we will not find any piles of brightly colored feathers scattered across the new spring grass, and our hens will eagerly come running to greet us. And this is the year that there will be enough truly cold,
below-freezing days to keep the sap deep down in the maple trees’ roots, where it will be able to gather its wonderful sweetness.

Then, when the days begin to warm, the nights will still remain cold, and the maple sap will start to perfectly flow up through the sap wood each day and drop back down into the roots each night.

This perfect rise and fall will enable us to gather gallons and gallons of pure sweet maple sap that we will be able to boil down into the valley’s ever so delicious maple syrup.

And with this year’s warm spring days, the bees will emerge from their winter clusters to find new spring blossoms everywhere.

I will not have to worry if the valley is providing them with enough pollen and nectar to gather and bring back to their hives. I will be able to sit by the hive entrances and watch as the foragers return, laden with multi-colored balls of pollen packed into their leg sacks, and I will know that the queen is busily laying new brood deep inside the hive. I can already taste the new spring asparagus, the first ripe tomato, the richness of the summer’s first blackberry. I imagine the beans and sunflowers drying perfectly in their fields, ready to harvest.

I can see the alfalfa and clover field, growing so lush and green, that we will easily get three cuts of hay throughout the summer. I can even smell its sweet scent as it dries in the sun and feel it rustling through my fingers, ready to bale under a clear blue sky.

And finally, this will be the year that we leave 2020, and all of its unforeseeable complications, far behind. Our family and friends will be able to once again gather around our dining room table, and overnight guests will be able to stay as long as they desire, either sleeping in the small cabin where we used to live or in tents on the platforms we built behind the stone wall. Creek valley family reunions and potluck dinners will abound.

Yes, the seed catalogs have begun to arrive in the mail, signaling the new year. As I sit here, looking forward to all that this new year has to offer, I can’t help but wonder if a time will come when I’ll be able to think back on 2020 and remember this time, not with a tear or a shake of my head, but with a smile. I wonder.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at