Here in the Bay Area, whenever it gets hot and sunny in mid-October people shake their heads and start muttering about earthquake weather. The scientists tell us there's no such thing, but the old-timers just shrug and keep on muttering. They've seen it before, specifically the Loma Prieta quake of '89. It doesn't help matters that there have been three (or is it four?) earthquakes here in the past few days, small ones but strong enough to be felt by a lot of people. An aftershock gently rattled me last night just as I was falling asleep, leaving me to gnaw on my adrenaline for a few hours before I could finally drift off.
This morning, the heat, the sun, and the general mood of the city leaves me feeling twitchy and restless. I step into the kitchen and then sigh and step out again. My larder is stocked for autumn, full of things that require a fair amount of time on the stove in order to be edible. Two minutes later, I'm back, looking for distraction. I glance at the beans I had started soaking earlier, before I saw the weather report. I refresh the water and slide them into the refrigerator. Maybe tomorrow will be a bean day but not today.
I find a tiny apple in the back of the refrigerator, a perfect sweet/tart confection that's gone in two bites. A lovely treat but far from satisfying. I pace some more, picking up messes here, making a few more messes there, until a weary languor and a mediocre novel pins me to my couch for a few hours. There I steadily make my way through a packet of thin pretzels, dipping them in a tub of grocery store hummus. Only the sudden thought that I do not want this to be my last meal moves me off the couch and back into the kitchen. I find another apple, this time a stunning, deeply red Rome that feels crisp and heavy in my hand. I think of Snow White as a bite into it, the insides a perfect bright white, the red skin thin and taut. Delicious, but I still feel restless and tangled, all sixes and sevens.
The sun begins its decent, pouring through my westward-facing windows in a thick, golden stream, stretching over the day like caramel. It grows hotter and eventually I just give up. The day is almost over and the only thing I've done is kick up a lot of dust and fuss. There's nothing left to do but to surrender, to shrug my shoulders and let it go. Some days are just write-offs.
My street is eerily silent as I stand looking out the kitchen window, a third apple in my hand. I look down at it in the honey-light. It's nothing special, probably just a Gala from the grocery store. But then I take a bite and it fills my mouth with the most amazing, perfumed taste. A strong apple flavor, but a little spicy and sweet. Creamy flesh, sharp skin, it fills my mouth and suddenly, I feel restored, like I've come back to myself. A little flicker of happiness tickles my belly as the sun disappears and a cool evening rises to take its place.
The earth beneath my feet stays quiet, steady and firm. I smile and take another bite of the apple. For now.
From One Year Ago: Weekend meditation: From My Childhood
(Image: Dana Velden)