Every spring we greedily enjoy the brief span of time between the end of winter’s chill, and the onset of Washington’s breathtaking combination of summer heat, humidity, and ferocious mosquitoes. This span of time is brief – 6 to 8 weeks tops – and it is now coming to an abrupt end, but it is a delicious time to sit on the porch, admire our tiny little triangular National Park across the street (merci, Monsieur L’Enfant), and watch the sunlight work its mysterious magic on everything we see. It is the golden hour.
At the golden hour, I often sit on the porch with my current reading material, but I am always so taken with the unfolding scene that the pages rarely turn. Cars rush by taking workers home for dinner; walkers, almost every one connected to something electronic, stroll by oblivious to the surrounding city; dogs get walked; increasingly bikers whiz by; a trillion birds sing as they steal the berries from our garden.
As I sat one recent evening, spellbound by our golden hour, I remembered Grandma Kochel. Actually, she is my great grandmother, and she is gone now – she was born in 1858. Hers is an astonishing story, but it’s a tiny bit of her tale that I was recalling. Grandma Kochel was living alone, on her farm. My Aunt Lu, also gone now but then a young girl of 11 or 12, was visiting that summer, and they had been doing farm chores all day long. Late in the afternoon, in the golden hour, Grandma Kochel poured two glasses of lemonade, and invited Lu to come sit on the back steps. They sat silently for a while, and then Grandma Kochel leaned over to Lu and whispered, “Listen to the farm.”
I guess that’s what I have been doing. Just listening to our farm.