Vicky’s Birches have new leaves. Just how did that happen? A moment ago it was winter and now spring’s burst wide open. I suppose, meteorologically, it’s actually still winter. But my senses don’t lie. No, here in our little town, the seasons have changed. Spring is here.
A man sold a bunch of parsley to a robust woman. The woman laughed and talked as she gave him the two dollars that the hand-painted said she owed. She continued her conversation with him while she walked away, getting getting louder and louder in order for him to hear her. Soon she was out of shouting distance and disappeared. Then it was quiet. A brief lull filled the air. The vegetable stand was deserted for a moment but the peace wouldn’t last. The next rush of hungry buyers were but a moment away.
A glance. A shrug. A girl pulls at her hair. Lost in themselves they ignore the bustle of the market around them. They ignore me, too. They face each other, looking inward towards the conversation that envelopes them. I listen to the cadence, the tones of their voices as they rise and fall.
A return from a trip always reveals new things about home. The imperceptible cadence of life seems to have moved at a fast-forward pace upon our return. This is especially true if one has traveled at the change of a season. Autumn seems to have progressed more quickly when we return to a yard full of leaves and bare trees. Does life move this fast when we watch each leaf fall from a tree?
Labor Day Weekend evokes long-ago memories. When I was a kid I never cared for holiday (with apologies to my labor-union friends). It was the Back to School jingles on the radio that ruined things. The adult world was clearly taunting me, delighted to see me return to the grindstone. The days were shorter. The new school year was arriving. The summer was gone.
Lately I've taken to walking at sunset. This recent habit started on the night that my mother-in-law died. Alone with my memories and sadness, the house and its four walls were closing in on me. Dusk, with its wondrous light, was right outside the door. It lured me out and then I walked. I've been walking at sunset ever since.
The squash plant in our backyard is a real producer. According to my count, it must grow some thirty squashes during its short season of life. Plump, firm, colorful, and delicious, the vegetables serve to nourish us throughout the summer.
I try not to visit the farmer's market on an empty stomach. The overstimulation of so much fresh, ripe food causes me to buy too much stuff. I lug it all home, as happy as a pig in pile of corn—all self-satisfied and content. But, by the miracle of time, alchemy and a big fridge, too much of the bright and colorful produce transforms into a khaki-colored sludge. This may be good for the compost pile but, at today's prices for organic produce, the green in my wallet disappears faster than the green in my refrigerator.
Everything stops cold in summer. The flow of life seems to lazily drift to a halt, like a boat that runs out of gas. I find it frustrating. It takes twice the effort to get anything done in this season because we push against an invisible force of resistance. Except for the Jersey Shore I've always felt that summer is way overrated. Once it begins I start to count the days until golden light of autumn.
"Don't try to fight it. Just settle into the saddle and let the mule take care of things."
The mule guide was trying to calm a pale, nervous companion who was obviously on her first mule ride and on her first journey out of Grand Canyon. It was just the two of them on the South Kaibab Trail. The guide was a rugged young woman with long, blonde hair, topped with a cream-colored Stetson hat. Fit and trim, her face showed slight signs of damage from the canyon's sun. This only added to her allure. She was strong and straight in the saddle and rode with confidence. Her voice had hints of the Southwestern twang that matched her hat.