It's strawberry season where I live. That means frequent drives through the country to a special farm stand which sells the best strawberries you'd ever hope to top shortcake. On my way to pick up a fresh batch yesterday, I let my eyes rove over the passing greenery.
Along my route were cherry orchards and vineyards. For the cherries, just like the strawberries fields, there was plenty of hard work going on, for it is also harvest time for cherries. But the vineyards? Yes, the vineyards I passed are all green and vibrant, but don't expect to see any grapes yet. Nothing is happening in those fields yet. For those, we have to wait.
Just like the farmer knows the timing of a specific harvest, I couldn't help but think of "harvesting" my DNA results. It seemed like an eternity to wait for the test results to come back, after sending in my sample. And after that, I discovered it would be even longer before I received any usable matches.
Sometimes, in genealogy, we just have to wait.
Sometimes, things take time to process. That matching cousin somewhere out there delayed sending in the DNA test which held the very answers we were searching for. The man with the Y-DNA exact match or the woman whose mtDNA test would solve some research puzzles hasn't yet sprung for that pricey test. Or maybe our mystery cousin hasn't even begun to wonder about family connections because right now, life is too overwhelming.
Along with waiting, we remember: to check our results periodically for updates, to encourage key distant family members to also consider testing, to update our family tree with collateral lines and other useful details, to help others learn what their DNA is telling them. There really is plenty to do to help the wait time zoom by.
When the answer comes, it certainly makes the wait worthwhile—or at least a little less burdensome. Like the harvest which does eventually occur, we reap information that perhaps we've been seeking for years. And like harvest time, it sometimes keeps us on our toes when multiple successes show up simultaneously.
Discovering what DNA can do for our quest to find family can be an awe-inspiring experience, but it also can be filled with the frustration of waiting. When the wait drags on too uncomfortably for me, I like to remember that, even though those cherries and strawberries are coming in bucketloads right now, I'll eventually get some bounty with my grape harvest—when the time is right. In the meantime, I'll spend the waiting time trimming, weeding, fertilizing, and watering to care for my family tree harvest.