At breakfast, my daughter mentioned a frost warning.
What? I thought. Already?
At the post office later that day, I chatted with an acquaintance who was at the counter buying stamps, his tiny dog tucked under his arm. He said, Why is frost always such a shock every year?
My girl and I picked the remainder of the tomatoes and peppers, covered what seemed like it should be covered. At the end, I tossed an old sheet over a patch of my zinnias. Really? she asked. You’re covering flowers?
But they’ve given me such pleasure, I said, even autumn-ragged as they are now.
The frost passed us over. A few more days of summer here.
27 years ago, my oldest nephew was born. I was visiting his great-grandparents on that day. I had recently entered that family, and I was on my very best, most sparkling, ready-to-please behavior. His great-grandfather walked me around his property, pointing with pride to the peach trees. Elderly and ill, a minister by trade, he remarked he wouldn’t be around long to savor that fruit, but someone else would.
I was 22 then, fresh out of college, naive and deeply in love. I’ve thought back often over these years to his comment about those peach trees, and how much those words summed up that man’s life. Even then, hardly beyond childhood myself, I wanted that equanimity.
A few years later, after his death, and his wife was moved to Vermont to live nearer her two daughters, someone else bought the house and cut down those fruit trees. That, I suppose, is a whole different philosophy. It’s not mine to suppose what he would have made of that action, but it’s a question I’ve pondered, whose answer I’ll never receive.
A little girl under a peach tree,
Whose blossoms fall into the entrails
Of the earth.