Monday, July 15, 2013

Harvesting "The Good Earth"

Deep, dark scarlet in their ripeness: dark as purple, brighter than blood, translucent where the sun struck and shining with the wet juices vibrant within.  I was enchanted.  I have found new appreciation for the brilliancy of reds but late... my heart wholly given long and strong to the cool palette, and I am far from abandoning my passion for my first and oldest color-love.

But there is something still so imperially Persian, so royally insistent of attention, so vividly breathtaking in the brilliancy of the reds of the earth.  Man doesn't mimic them by half, because such strength of color paired with translucency in light does not present itself often in invented mediums.  But I digress... it was picking cherries I found a new glory.  The unripe fruit and the sour cherries were vermilion, but the sweet, ripe cherries were dark as I have described, and yet... so crystalline, so wet, so red.  

Saturday found us on a small family adventure, picking our own newly-ripened sweet cherries and a few humble raspberries.  The July afternoon was cooler than it's wont but hot enough in the late sunshine.  We gloried in the color, ate it like the old gods in rampant abandon, with the juices escaping down chins and over fingers.  The harvest was so homelike, yet so novel: never having picked cherries, I had yet for many summers earned my college-keep in picking fruit or tending fruit.  I have worked in peaches, and grapes, blackberries, and strawberries, and blueberries.  I have seen a day when the summer sun vanished in a trice of sudden gloom and growl of thunder, and picked till my fingers were falling off, record gallons of berries before the storm... yet never seen the fields of cherries against the sky, glossy among the leaves.  What new-found wonder! What beauty!

We picked only for ourselves, and that too, was glorious fun: it felt like riotous waste and carelessness, to hunt around, to leave this tree behind and move to that, a thing the hired help must not do.  What a difference paying rather than being paid makes, after all!!

After we took our hoard and went a little westward, to the beach on Lake Ontario.  We spilled our treasure of color and sweetness in the wind and sunlight, out on the picnic blanket.  Cold barbecue pork sandwiches whetted our more serious appetites while the lush fruit waited an intermission.  

Then it was more gathering and harvesting, more color on the shoreline.  The waves rose up strong and the spray came far over the rocks, for it was a day with the wind high and in our faces.  It was a challenge, it was a game, to watch the sand and stone roll along the edge like marbles or dice in Neptune's fist, and see the bright thing catch the light, and jump down before the waves and between the waves, to seize it first!  

After much of this darting in and out, sometimes without a wetting, but sometimes with, we emerged triumphant with a tiny handful of sea glass.  

What an evening; what a day!  To make summer feel again so rampant, so Dionysian in abundance, so careless of scarcity and winter, that every day is another holiday for which the earth makes jubilee.  And we, among it all, we walked like children and like kings, something of both.  

The blackbirds sang, and the goldfinches flitted in their fly-drop-fly from bush to bush.  The green spaces so long coveted dazzled so seamlessly across every scene it made the eyes ache, and then the sun-sparkle lilted on the gray gray water that reached to meet the tall, turquoise sky... no place was left to rest a mortal eye, which felt the pain of seeing too much and still "not satisfied with seeing."  How glory draws us always!

And yet, how it wearies us... as if this kind of tiredness, which makes home and bed and familiarity so welcome, might have proceeded from the early days of Eden and be called by the other name of bliss.


  1. What a lovely account of such a wonderful day! I love how you describe the flight of the gold-finches. I've never been able to put it into words before, but "fly-drop-fly" is so perfect!

  2. I agree, this is a beautiful account. I just went berry picking for the first time this past summer, and I can't wait to do it again.

    Funny about your color-love, for me I've only favored warms my whole life, til just recently, something in the blues, in the ocean/river/night sky/misty mountains has captured me.

    1. Yes, blue is certainly a magical color. In general, I prefer warm colors, especially autumn colors, but my favorite color is a deep, indescribably rich blue.