Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bearing Fruit

The backyard is laden with fruit and herbs. My neighbor, a rather eccentric bloke in his sixties, had been gardening just two houses over. He pulled cherries from the tree, ate them straight from the branches, and spit seeds thoughtfully onto the waiting earth. In his slow, soft drawl, he told me to go get myself a good duck breast and make a cherry sauce for it. He meandered through the garden and showed me peaches that should have been sprayed in winter to prevent infestation. He talked about how to prune the fig tree. His hands, crusted and dusted throughout with black loam, proffered samples of the growing fruit. He chastised me a bit for not taking more advantage of what was growing and asked if he could return to pick our fruit—more telling than asking, really. As he squinted into the sun, he adjusted the brim of his hat and warned that birds would soon discover the ripe cherries and then the plums that grew nearby.

I had been pruning trees out of practicality and desperation. Tired of ducking heavy branches on my way to take out the garbage, I had removed branches, dead and live alike, fruitful and barren, and heaved the pile into the alley. My neighbor pawed through the remnants for more cherries, told me he would help himself to this, too, thank you very much. He tipped his hat, and ambled, in his time-be-damned manner, back down toward his home.

I retreated to the shelter of the fruit trees. As I stretched up into the branches for another taste of early summer, I suddenly felt gloriously happy to be exactly where I was. Such a wonderful city, so rich in history, and my home, an oasis in the middle of it all. The fruit trees are just the cherry on top. They are a reminder of all the things in my life that are blossoming and bearing goodness.

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