In Summer, in a burst of summertime
Following falls and falls of rain,
When the air was sweet-and-sour of the flown fineflower of
Those goldnails and their gaylinks that hang along a lime;
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “Cheery Beggar”
Sweet and sour extends far beyond a Chinese menu; it is the daily air we breathe. Dichotomy is so much of our life and times, more distinct than the bittersweet of simple pleasures laced with twinges and tears.
We are but cheery beggars in this world, desiring to hang tight to the overwhelming sweetness of each glorious moment — the startling sunrise, the lush green and golden blooms following spring showers, the warm hug of a compassionate word, the house filled with love and laughter. But as beggars aren’t choosers, we can’t only have sweet alone; we must endure the sour that comes as part of the package — the deepening dark of a sleepless night, the muddy muck of endless rain, the sting of a biting critique, the loneliness of an home emptying and much too quiet.
So we slog through sour to revel some day, even more so, in sweet. Months of manure-permeated air is overcome one miraculous morning by the unexpected and undeserved fragrance of apple and pear blossoms, so sweet, so pure, so full of promise of the fruit to come. The manure makes the sweet sweeter and once again the earth turns upside down.
And we breathe in deeply, content and grateful for a moment of grace and bliss, wanting to hold it in the depths of our lungs forever.