In the tree just outside my window, a barn cat is making his way up the branches. Bird hunting. He sticks a tentative paw out on each branch, and when it holds, he moves on to the next one. Right now, he’s got one paw out on a smaller limb. A little shaky, but it looks good.
Friends, that barn cat is all of us right now.
We’re full of anticipation for the new year. We’re a little ragged from the past year. And we’re testing the waters of the unknown tentatively; we’d sure like to know they’ll hold. But nobody’s promising anything.
Anybody with me?
Anticipation for 2021 is high everywhere, and certainly at my house, too. My oldest, Jenna, graduates from high school this spring. She’ll move out and onto college in the fall. I’ve written about that tiny peanut on these pages since she was born, so it seems pretty unreal — but it’s about to get real.
So many of you have trod this path before us, this path of anticipation and change and transition. We’re so excited and hopeful for the choices she’s about to make, and for the fun of a graduation. But what will it be like with one less in our house? My breath catches just typing that, let alone living it.
On the farm, we see transition before us, too. Farm managers are anticipating more land turnover this year, as older farmers decide they’ve had enough. Locally, we’ve seen more land sales in the past few weeks than we’ve seen in a long time. 2021 may just see the start of the land turnover experts have been predicting for the past 15 years or so. We’ll be watching that one closely.
Transition is everywhere as we look back on 2020 and into 2021. I’m loathe to mention the word COVID because we’re all so tired of it, but it’s still real, and it arrived in rural Illinois in earnest this fall. At this point, each of us likely knows someone who had it. Maybe even someone who died from it.
COVID-19 arrived even on our farm, where my in-laws each contracted it, exposed through a township meeting. It doesn’t get much more real or local or rural than that, does it?
I’ve seen so many memes — truly hilarious ones — about the train wreck 2020 has been and how we’re all looking forward to 2021. I’d agree. Forget COVID; our household has seen anaphylactic bee stings, lost teeth, a car backed into a backhoe, three four-wheeler accidents, a sprained ankle and a life flight helicopter in our pasture. And our dog got ran over. Bring on 2021. Please.
I love our hope for a new year. We know there’s no real promise that 2021 will be better than 2020, but we sure can hope. It’s why we’re farmers, right? Relentless optimism for a new year and a new growing season, no matter the past. Remember when we thought 2019 was bad? We couldn’t wait for 2020. That was cute.
So the calendar turns. We’ll be full of anticipation. And a little anxiety. But still, hope.
And that barn cat? He just fell out of the tree. But he landed on his feet. And now he’s climbing back up again.
How about you? What are you anticipating in 2021? What are you expecting? What are you anxious about? Shoot me a note at email@example.com.