Time to bring the harvest home

I’ve driven a lot of miles lately - many of them spent crawling along behind tractors.

It’s harvest time. The fields are shorn, stacks of straw bales stand sentry where the corn grew tall, and those who help to put food on our tables are busy from dawn to dusk, bringing it all home.

As we snake along country roads, splinters of chaff hitting my windscreen like golden insects, I can’t help noticing those who are not content to crawl. Their red faces speak of their frustration, and when, finally, the way ahead opens up enough for them to risk overtaking, they push down on the accelerator a little too hard, as if in reproach to anyone who dares keep them from getting on with their lives.

Except their lives are happening in the moments of delay every bit as much as they will happen when they get to the appointment, or the date, or dinner at home, or sometimes just the next junction where they’ll encounter a combine harvester from the neighbouring farm.

We’ve made such a habit of hurrying. In the last two days I have pushed myself to keep up with the cashier speed-scanning this week’s groceries (why?), rushed to close the phone call from a friend in order to resume what I was doing (surely the call was more important?), tried to hurry other people along by walking ever faster a few metres ahead of them (ignoring the fact that ‘going for a walk’ was the whole point), broken the speed limit trying to arrive on time for a breakfast meeting (would the world have ended if I’d stuck to the limit and arrived a whole two minutes later?); and raced through the To Do list, even though I know the only thing that happens when I get to the end of any list is that there is another one around the corner.

The truth is, there are few things any of us are dashing to which are as important to our health, well-being and ultimately survival as those farmers bringing the harvest home.

Nor are there many sights as lovely and calming as the countryside in all its moods, colours and shapes, endlessly repeating the cycle of spring growth, summer fullness, autumn bounty and winter rest.

I’m grateful to those impatient drivers - and the tractor drivers -  for reminding me that I notice infinitely more, and get in touch with what matters most, when I allow myself to slow down.

My challenge to you - and me - this week, is to choose an activity that you usually do almost unconsciously and do it slowly -  watering the plants, cooking a meal from scratch, reading a book, taking a shower, or just possibly getting stuck behind the slowest car on the road.

Just see what peace and richness you can harvest from a temporary go-slow….

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