Friday, July 10, 2009

A Warm Summer in San Francisco

by Carolyn Miller

Although I watched and waited for it every day,
somehow I missed it, the moment when everything reached
the peak of ripeness. It wasn't at the solstice; that was only
the time of the longest light. It was sometime after that, when
the plants had absorbed all that sun, had taken it into themselves
for food and swelled to the height of fullness. It was in July,
in a dizzy blaze of heat and fog, when on some nights
it was too hot to sleep, and the restaurants set half their tables
on the sidewalks; outside the city, down the coast,
the Milky Way floated overhead, and shooting stars
fell from the sky over the ocean. One day the garden
was almost overwhelmed with fruition:
My sweet peas struggled out of the raised bed onto the mulch
of laurel leaves and bark and pods, their brilliantly colored
sunbonnets of rose and stippled pink, magenta and deep purple
pouring out a perfume that was almost oriental. Black-eyed Susans
stared from the flower borders, the orange cherry tomatoes
were sweet as candy, the fruit fattened in its swaths of silk,
hummingbirds spiraled by in pairs, the bees gave up
and decided to live in the lavender. At the market,
surrounded by black plums and rosy plums and sugar prunes
and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines, perfumey melons
and mangos, purple figs in green plastic baskets,
clusters of tiny Champagne grapes and piles of red-black cherries
and apricots freckled and streaked with rose, I felt tears
come into my eyes, absurdly, because I knew
that summer had peaked and was already passing
away. I felt very close then to understanding
the mystery; it seemed to me that I almost knew
what it meant to be alive, as if my life had swelled
to some high moment of response, as if I could
reach out and touch the season, as if I were inside
its body, surrounded by sweet pulp and juice,
shimmering veins and ripened skin.

5 comments:

  1. Nice; you know summer's really here when the Farmer's Markets are loaded down with lush goodies.

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  2. Ooo, this is so visual....the imagery is just amazing. I think it resonates so vividly because I just love Farmer's Markets. Coming soon to a stall near me.

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  3. Beautiful. Although I am left with a hint of the decay and downward spiral that inevitably follow the peak of ripeness; in life as in fruit.

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  4. *looks down the field at the overgrown and rabbit ravaged vegetable patch... and frowns.....
    How I wish I had a garden to write about like this!

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  5. what happened to the summer that Mark Twain enjoyed
    "the coldest winter i ever spent was a summer in San Francisco"

    coincidentally my favourite city in the whirled

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Hey, thanks for your thoughts and your time:>)