Summer is typically the time of year when we hit the road and cash in on hard-earned vacation time to retreat from our labor. But that wasn’t always the case. In our nation’s agricultural past, we rested and worked, not based on an arbitrary two-week vacation outlined in a contract, but on the changing of the seasons. There was pruning and waiting in winter, planting and watering in spring, and the hard labor of harvest during the summer and early fall.
But now, since an increasing amount of the world’s work only requires access to a screen, the seasons risk becoming just jumps and dips on a thermometer, not the life-markers they once were. We experience cabin fever, but not only during winter. Less exposure to the elements threatens to plague us year round. And it has left some of us itching for a change.
Nashville entrepreneurs Stephen and Jessica Rose craved something other than a schedule tethered to a computer. When they founded The Peach Truck in 2012, they knew peach season was a short window of time to make a living – only three short months. With little more than “a table and a truck and 30 boxes of peaches,” the couple began selling peaches, transforming a humble idea into a company that is delivering to more than 40 states this summer. Stephen and his wife work harder than they ever worked before. But at the end of last season, they took a five-month trip around the world while the crops prepared for the next harvest.
“When we first started The Peach Truck, it was a hobby,” Stephen explains. “And then I remember saying, ‘I think we can do this full time. If we give up our summers and work nonstop, then we can get some real freedom outside of that.’ And it worked. We were shocked.”
Of course it didn’t work over night. Stephen points to many changes they made early on: they rented an inexpensive apartment, drove one car, worked nights and weekends, stayed out of debt, and ate frugally. “We did so many things to sacrifice,” he says. “And figured out how to live our lives so there was very low overhead.”
During their first off-season, Stephen and Jessica began to realize that they weren’t alone in this lifestyle. On a stopover in Thailand, where monsoons thwart tourism, they realized that some restaurants simply had signs in the windows that said “closed for low season.” And that’s when they took a closer look at the pace of our modern culture – one with fewer ties to the land.
“Where did the 50-week work year come from?” Stephen asks. “Who created that? It can work, and for many years, it worked for us. But we got to a point where we felt a real a need to pursue a different lifestyle.”
Throughout history, farmers have lived seasonally – finding space for hard work and good rest. And while most of the world can’t operate on an agricultural schedule, we can honor the spirit of this rhythm by setting aside times for labor and rejuvenation. We can also capitalize on the cues mother nature gives us every three months. Whether it’s enjoying seasonal produce or doing a spring cleaning – living more in tune with the seasons gives us an appreciation for change, serves as a marker for revering life and reminds us of the beauty of renewal.
Without that perspective, it’s easy to let time pass by, unaware of the transformations happening around and within us.
Spring photo by Malene Thyssen