Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Autumn Begins

Lament for the Passing of Summer

The corn bin stood empty, save a few strands of golden silk left from the last batch. The new crop of apples, Macintosh, Gala and, my new favorite, Ginger Gold, encroached uneasily from the side bins, leaving space for the corn that never came. Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn, but it came too early. There had to be more corn.

I spent the better part of six weeks in an ICU unit, praying, crying, pacing, visiting, crying, sleeping, reading, waiting for my father to recover from a rupture of his aorta. Not an easy thing to recover from, not for the patient, not for the family. It's long and slow and you take it day by day. The day by days added up quickly and summer, apparently, turned to fall. I lost track of the days.

I asked if perhaps there was a bag in the back yet to be opened. "No, there is no more corn." Failing to register the words properly, or maybe I was in denial, "You mean no more today, right?" "No," she said, gently breaking the news to me, "No more this year." I gasped, "No more corn?!!" Another farm stand customer shared my dismay. "Was it the drought?" I asked the farm stand cashier, "No, this is about right...the drought only really affected the white corn. Now it's time for apples..." Her words trailed off like the dried leaves swirling in the open doorway.

No more corn. Autumn is here. I should've seen it coming. Even the kiosk in the park across the street said it in big black and white letters, "First Day of Autumn Tomorrow." They knew. The signs were everywhere. I wasn't paying attention.

Maybe it was this tortuously hot Indian summer...the heat got to me. When I wasn't in the heat, I was in the stale aired, sun-starved ICU unit, where only the beeping of heart and breating monitors seemed to mark the passage of time. My father suffered from ICU psychosis, maybe I had a form of it. No sense of time, no day or night. Just alive or not. Conscious or not. It's September and I'm still sending the kids to school with shorts on and I couldn't tell you where my favorite pair of jeans have been hibernating since early June. It felt like summer. How could there be no more corn?

I was still reeling at the cash register, comforted somewhat by the feel of my fresh-baked cider donuts and home-grown tomatoes, warmed from their sunny location near the window. Like refusing to believe the death of someone you recently saw, I lamented, "But I just had corn on Saturday. Butter & was so sweet," The other lady nodded in sympathy as I added, "I would've bought more…I would've make the fresh corn salsa I've been saying I'd make all summer." But now there was no more summer.

I took my produce, cider donuts and sorrow to the car. I felt empty without my baker's dozen of corn. The sight of rows and rows of pumpkins with signs "39cents/lb" were encouraging. I sighed and considered the reasonable price and variety and sizes of pumpkins. At the end of the pumpkin trail, I found an inviting picnic table, readied for the eventual pilgrimage of elementary school students, and ate my still warm cinnamon donut. It wasn't corn, but it was good. Cornstalks lazily leaned against the maple tree, like they've been resting there for weeks. The sun, even at 3pm, cast long shadows behind the apple crates.

Autumn begins tomorrow. I guess I'm ready. I don’t really have a choice. Maybe I’ll make apple pie...but I'll be dreaming of corn and the lost summer.


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, great shots!

I adore pumpkins. They are so cheery and they always make me smile.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Thanks! We're off to go pumpkin picking with the kids...maybe I'll have more later!


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