Folk Thursday: The Fallow Way

It’s been a bit since I posted anything for Folk Thursday. With a little more time on my hands than usual, this seems as good a time as any to do it.

In “The Fallow Way,” Judy Collins’ lyrics speak to the value of stillness and solitude — two commodities many of us have in abundance at the moment.

I found myself thinking of this song Tuesday as I was standing in the lobby of the Roadrunner Lodge, minding the desk while the owner was busy with a teleconference. Here in Tucumcari, the winter is quiet, but this time of year, we start to see the snowbirds stopping in on their way east from Arizona, and the first few tourists begin wandering up and down Tucumcari Boulevard, cameras in hand. Every spring, I look forward to watching Route 66 come back to life, a bright blossom with petals made of neon and chrome.

If the road is a blossom, the coronavirus scare is a late frost, freezing the buds and disrupting the rhythm of the seasons.

I’ve never liked late frosts. When I was growing up in Southern Illinois, a late frost could threaten the summer peaches, hurting orchards’ bottom lines and disappointing those of us who waited eagerly for Flamm’s and Lipe’s and Rendleman’s to open their fruit stands along the backroads of Jackson County.

But late frosts have their lessons. They teach us patience: A gardener who trusts an early spring can lose a whole flat of tomatoes or peppers she’s spent weeks coaxing from seed to plant. They teach us not to take things for granted: to savor the sweetness of summer while we have it, because we are promised daily bread, not next year’s peach crop.

I’ve spent 30 years overcommitted, racing from deadline to deadline, doing a lot of what Mary Baker Eddy refers to as “rushing around smartly.” I’ve spent 30 years wishing I could take a break from all my responsibilities. And I’ve spent 19 years wishing I could take that break in Tucumcari.

I hate the reason it’s happening, and I’m not fond of the unanswered questions that seem to loom over the horizon, but I’d be the worst kind of ingrate if I complained about being handed something I’ve wanted for 19 years — so I will, as Collins writes, “learn to love the fallow way.”


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