"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ten Pounds of Cherries on a Hot Summer Day; or, What the Great Pumpkin and Easter Bunny Left Us

I realize that it is indeed a luxury for me to choose to abstain from eating meat: to be able to say, yes, I want this to some things; no, I don't want that to others.
I am reminded of such things when the boys and I go to pick fruit from local orchards, as Little Guy and I did yesterday. The party of two is new for us, for although Big Guy is an excellent fruit picker, he was at work in his new job at a local restaurant. (More on that happy news in a later post.)
LG is enamored of cherries. I had promised cherry-picking, and had scanned the papers religiously for the orchard that we frequent in the summers to advertise the opening of cherry season, and I had seen none. Yesterday I called the orchard; they told me that their cherries were gone. I had promised cherry-picking, and after some telephoning about, and finding either sellouts or slim pickings, I found an orchard in the next county that had cherries.
LG and I each took a small bucket and set off. I was telling myself that though every other orchard had been well-picked, at least here, at this place, at least we would be able to find enough for one cherry cobbler. Just one, and one is enough; one is just so.
We arrived at the orchard after a half-hour drive. We went into the stand to receive directions to the trees and to have our buckets --- an Easter bucket and a grinning jack-o-lantern from trick-or-treat--- weighed. We drove to the part of the orchard where the cherries were to be found. And then here--- here comes the good stuff, dear reader.
Tree after tree after tree, these beautiful graceful trees, tended just so: not so high, so that one needed no ladder; with branches arching up and out and down from the trunk, so that one could stand beneath the umbrella of the tree, in the shade, and reach out, without stretching, and find fruit; and such fruit. Bright red, cherry-red cherries, shining, glowing, warm-in-the-sun. Everywhere in abundance: literally, just every place one could reach and touch and take. So much abundance, and so one could "cherry-pick:" yes, I'll take this one; no, I'll leave that one.
And so we did.
There's just something to that, dear reader, that is so powerful and so good. To be guests of such abundance, to know that now, here and now, in the beating of the heat and the drone of insects and the shelter of swirls of leaves, that we can simply reach and take and choose: we can simply say yes, I'll take it, it is good.
There's something to that to know in saying yes that now is the time for doing so. It makes the goodness we receive even more sweet when we know that, say, this orchard that is bursting with heat and fruit and life will be dormant and white and cold and silent in Nature's short order. It endears us to the saying of yes, of yes to abundance, when we know we will return again to this place, when the time for giving and taking comes again, in the heat and the green and the humming of insects.
That's the good stuff, dear reader. Reach out for it whenever you see it. Say yes.
Be abundant.
Just so.

5 comments:

I have lots of neckties said...

Some of the best childhood memories I have of my late father are the times I helped him pick strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Your story made me remember these times and smile!

neroli said...

Dear Lots Of, I'm glad!
Thanks for adding to my memories as well---now when we go to the orchards, I will remember how much family means to all of us in our day-to-day. And hopefully, one day, my sons will each be able to say, "I remember when..." and have that same smile...
What a good thing!

min said...

That sounds so wonderful. I don't think my kids even know that cherries grow on trees...they are so urban. My children do know that you can swing on vines, I guess that's a start.

neroli said...

Dear Min, of course the knowledge of the existence of vine-swinging counts for lots. It is a shame that I myself have neglected to pass this on to my boys, after having learned it when I was young from Johnny Weismuller during Sunday afternoon movie matinees on the television.
You say your kids are so urban---but that is also a wonderful thing!

min said...

If you get a moment, you may want to check-out the Swampwitch's post today.
http://anecdotes.typepad.com/anecdotes_antidotes_and_a/2007/07/finches.html
She does a fun little M.I. exercise.