We are deep in the work of planting right now. Having picked up our annual tree order from FEDCO this weekend, it is a pile of trees, shrubs, and bushes that are the work of these particular days. The order placed what seems like long ago in the quiet days of January, now is in our hands and making its way into the ground here. It feels so good - this setting down of more literal roots in this place we love, the work of breathing fresh air and living with dirt under our fingernails, the promise of goodness to come as these trees mature.
This year we add more apple trees and pear trees to the orchard; more raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry stalks to the ones we began last year; and we plant a big patch of strawberries where the veggie garden last was. As always, there are lots of helping hands in various degrees of involvement in the process. The youngest ones closest by, and the older ones in and out. Ever-ready to dig, to carry buckets of water or compost, or just play in the dirt ("it's SOIL, Mama!" Adelaide corrects me), we have a lot of helping hands.
It will be years still before most of these trees bear any fruit that we can enjoy, and this fact amazes my little ones. It seems so far away - three, four, five years. They do the math to figure out how old they'll be and how old their siblings will be when that Cortland apple tree begins sharing fruit with us, or when we'll have a snack from that Bosc pear tree. They giggle, as if it's just too impossible to imagine that someday they'll be seven, ten, twenty years old. The strawberries they understand more, for it will only be next year that we'll hopefully be enjoying their fruit. Counting the seasons till then, instead of years, they can imagine that much easier, though it still seems far away in their minds. We help them do the math, count the seasons, and smile bittersweetly, knowing of course just how very quickly it will be next spring again, five years from now, and then ten.
But for now, we are here. Moving at the pace of an almost one-year old, a three year old, a six year old, a nine year old and an eleven year old....weaving through the needs of us all within a day. It goes slowly, this work with so many hands. But it is good work, and we are grateful - even if we must remind each other from time to time - for the pace that is required of so many helping hands. A pace that demands we stop to admire each worm; notice the slow, but fast growth of plants (and people); appreciate each tree we place in the ground; and celebrate in the joy of doing it together.