The farm brings me joy—usually. But sometimes it is just plain depressing.

I stopped by the other week to check on things after one of the many recent thunderstorms. I wandered over to the squash plants, which were covered with vivid yellow flowers. But when I parted the leaves, I saw the stalks were a mass of stink bugs and their nymphs. The fruit were stunted, spongy and grey. Mound after mound—every squash plant had been turned into a breeding ground for insects and fungus.

I crossed over to the lettuce. All that remained were the bitter nibbled stalks: every leaf had been eaten by the ever-fatter groundhogs that live under the old farmhouse.

I turned to the tomatoes. The wind and rain had knocked down the cages like rows of dominoes. Broken limbs and green fruit littered the ground. I wanted to cry.

Picking up one of the heavy plants, I saw that on the underside of the branches, little roots had started to grow. This plant had seemingly resigned itself to lying prostrate in the mud, and was determined to make a life even there.

I started for the shed to find a hammer and stakes, and as I brushed past the row of zinnias, dozens of brightly colored butterflies took to flight, dancing around me in wide circles.

And suddenly, I sensed joy in the midst of the destruction and loss.

Sometimes joy can be elusive—has to be tracked down, worked at, struggled for in the mud. And sometimes joy takes you by surprise, and you find yourself suddenly lost in the dance.