…the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells, the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery grasses shine in the slanted light. It’s time to bring in the lawn chairs and wind chimes, time to draw the drapes against the wind, time to hunker down. Summer’s fruits are preserved in syrup, but nothing can stopper time. No way to seal it in wax or amber; it slides though our hands like a rope of silk. At night, the moon’s restless searchlight sweeps across the sky. ~Barbara Crooker “And Now it’s October” from Small Rain.
…but I do try to stopper time. I try every day not to suspend it or render it frozen, but like summer flower and fruit that withers, to preserve any sweet moment for sampling through stored words or pictures in the midst of my days of winter. I roll it around on my tongue, its heady fragrance becoming today’s lyrical shared moment, unstoppered, perpetual and always intoxicating.
It hangs on its stem like a plum at the edge of a darkening thicket.
It’s swelling and blushing and ripe and I reach out a hand to pick it
but flesh moves slow through time and evening comes on fast
and just when I think my fingers might seize that sweetness at last
the gentlest of breezes rises and the plum lets go of the stem.
And now it’s my fingers ripening and evening that’s reaching for them. ~Geoffrey Brock, “The Day” author of Voices Bright Flags
Let the light of late afternoon shine through chinks in the barn, moving up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing as a woman takes up her needles and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned in long grass. Let the stars appear and the moon disclose her silver horn.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop in the oats, to air in the lung let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t be afraid. God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come. ~Jane Kenyon, from “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems.
So much of our living is preparing for rest and here we are, fighting it every step of the way.
We resist it mightily: the toddler fussing about taking a nap, the youngster devoted to their screen time and unwilling to surrender to darkness, or the parent trying to eke out the last bit of daylight to get the chores done.
We are comforted by activity. We are created in the image of One who remembered to rest.
So must we be “evened” by Him. The evening comes – there is no stopping it – we are to settle into it, our fingertips ripening, to close our eyes and drift on the comfort it brings.
And somehow <she> thrived anyway–the blossom of our family,
like one of those miraculous fruit trees that taps into an invisible vein of nurture
and bears radiant bushels of plums while the trees around it merely go on living. ~Barbara Kingsolver in Animal Dreams
There is a plum tree on our farm that is so plain and unassuming much of the year that I nearly forget that it is there. It is a bit off by itself away from the other fruit trees; I have to make a point of paying attention to it otherwise it just blends into the background.
Despite not being noticed or having any special care, this tree thrives. In the spring it is one of the first to bud out into a cloud of white blossoms with a faint sweet scent. Every summer it is a coin toss whether it will decide to bear fruit or not. Some years–not at all, not a single plum. Other years, like this one, it is positively glowing with plum harvest– each a golden oval with a pink blush. These plums are extraordinarily honey flavored and juicy, a pleasure to eat right off the tree if you don’t mind getting past a bitter skin and an even more bitter pit inside. This is a beauty with a bite — sweet surrounded by bitter.
I think the tree secretly grins when it sees puckering taking place all around it.
This tree is a lot like some people I know: most of the time barely noticeable, hanging on the periphery, fairly reserved and unobtrusive. But when roots go deep and the nourishment is substantial, they bear a bounty of fruit, no doing things half-way. The feast is plentiful and abundant, the meal glorious despite the hint of sour. Maybe it is even more glorious because of sweet within bitter.
If “tucker” describes a great down-home meal, then being “plum-tuckered” would be eating our fill of the bitter-sweet. Even when the bitter in this life is plentiful, the sweet will always overwhelm and overcome.
I went to bed and woke in the middle of the night thinking I heard someone cry, thinking I myself was weeping, and I felt my face and it was dry. Then I looked at the window and thought: Why, yes, it’s just the rain, the rain, always the rain, and turned over, sadder still, and fumbled about for my dripping sleep and tried to slip it back on. ~Ray Bradbury
After weeks of dry weather and only an occasional shower, it was relief to wake to the pattering and dripping, an old familiar friend returned in the dark of night.
Weeping clouds and misty eyes are not always from sadness. They can shed sweet tears, wistful wondrous full-to-the-brim tears.
This is how it was as I slipped a dripping sleep back on, lulled by the rhythm of the drops. This is how it is this morning capturing each one where it landed before it disappears forever.