Anna Helmer’s creative non-fiction column for the New Year: Personal Issues Edition.
The farmer in winter. Is a mess. She is gaining weight, most notably. She is unproductive, almost concerningly. She has probably created at least one cavity per week in her sugar assaulted teeth. The hard-working aspects of her life have been shoved aside by riotous leisure.
To set the context, recall she is allowed a certain, large amount of leeway in December to create work-life balance which she measures over the course of a year and which has been heavily loaded on one side. Her industrious and successful efforts to redress the balance have predictably culminated in the creation of a run-away train that is bad diet, wobbly work ethic and the default position of curled up on the couch with an unopened book and a smartphone. The train will shortly crash head-on into a fresh new year that deserves better.
The winter farmer needs to get off this train: stock must be taken and change must occur. Note that at her age and level of experience it can be done without having to abandon accountability avoidance techniques such as the use of third person and the trusty runaway train cliché. She has total control.
Her motivation is the certain knowledge that the farmer in summer will be disgusted with herself if she arrives at work in this state. To be clear the lack of accountability piece is not of concern but the extra weight must go, and a little self-discipline should be its replacement.
First, an inventory of self, stock and jobs to be done. This winter farmer is over-weight, under-exercised, a bit lazy and generally content although has exhibited several indignant semi-private outrages over local, provincial and national and neighboring politics, so there is some promise of gumption. She has some 20,000lbs of potatoes, carrots and parsnips to sell, 3 months of farmer’s markets to do it at, a shop and 2 barns to clean-up and organize, several cords of firewood to burn, and a farming season to plan.
The key will be to maintain contentment, while losing a few pounds and getting some work done.
Requiring urgent action: reduce food intake. Not by a lot, just enough. She suspects popcorn and liquorice might be the main culprits so will start there. If weight is not being lost after a couple of weeks, she will get a little more serious about it and write down everything being eaten, count the calories and compare it to activity. Without doubt, this will show more eating than the exercise can make up for. She doesn’t want to go to this extent because it is time consuming and smacks of eating disorder. Not an issue for today.
Concurrently, she must do a farm job every day. Doesn’t matter what, or even how small, but a daily job must be done. Failure to do this will cause her to arrive in April with a massive list of jobs that could easily have been done, but aren’t. This is a morale-destroying list and the farmer in summer will not appreciate it. And it will be a long, long time before she can be a farmer in winter again.
This is all she needs to do for the first weeks of the year. Eat less, work a bit, read books. Also, go ahead and agitate. Maybe go to the dentist.
I’ll keep you posted on her progress.