It's the final days of August and I confess that I'm ready for the fall. I've become watchful, alert to subtle shifts and signals: the changing light, the shorter days, a touch of something in the air. This morning, in the courtyard out my back door, I notice that a few of the green apples on my neighbor's tree, the one's that are up high and facing south, have taken on a touch of rose. Around the corner, the persimmon tree sags under its load of hard fruit, grown to the right size but still firm and a deep, unripened shade of green. In the market, I keep a keen eye out for the first of the winter squash even as I'm filling up sacks of bargain-priced, summer-glut tomatoes.
I appreciate summer with its bright abundance and its child-like, unguarded generosity. I'm happy for the unlimited variety and enormous quantities of produce that almost leap into market baskets and out onto the kitchen counter at home. There is nothing restrained about summer, no stopping the wayward proportions of the garden zucchini, the endless rainbow of tomatoes (from zebra green to deep cherry-black), the sticky river of nectarines and peaches and plums.
I appreciate summer, I do, but I love the fall. I love the time just on the other side of all this abundance when the profusion has abated some and I can come up for air. I'm more than satiated of summer by then and I'm happy for a little less choice and an extra layer of clothes. I want to be snuggly, not sweaty, and I want apples and pears and hearty dishes covered in a pastry crust.
Until then, though, it's still summer. Late, late summer. And while there's a touch of finality in the air, the season is still strong and present. So I follow along with my sacks of tomatoes and melons (hardly a punishment!), snipping a few last roses, wandering past the persimmon tree in hopes of catching a pale streak of orange amongst the riot of green. I glance up at the higher branches of the apple tree and the lovely, rose tinted apples growing there, signaling both an end and a beginning, a circus trapeze act of in-between time when one thing is just about to drop and the other not quite in our grasp.
(Image: Dana Velden)