Friday, September 30, 2011

In His Earth

The three of us slid out of Claire's car, I the only one unused to the growing plot,
The rising action, of this place.

He emerged and met us, slapped their hands, and shook mine,
and we stood in a square, talking.
Light, sweet conversation mellowed us as we faltered into words, the creamy air of the last stirring day of September awing us a little. It was almost as if our feet were planted under those old trees, by the silver car.

In time the word was spoken and we made a beginning, taking hoes in hand and two of us baring four feet to weed between the rows. We shifted irrigation hoses, spread ourselves out and cut into soft, caky earth with rectangular tools on rods.

I salvaged forgotten red onions scattered in the paths and hidden between lettuce and small greens. In tight rows, we stooped and kneaded soil with our hands. I knelt and let it saturate my knees. Vital odors permeated the air, clean in the unity of their composting growth, like sweating crowds singing praise and turning fresh. In His earth our minds turned to Him, and in both the clumps we formed we naturally talked of God.

The germ of division molded into mottled feet of clay. Metal met worm, words lilted across minds; conversations linked and un-linked as we stepped over lines. 
When the work was done, we crossed to the tents with their tables of ripened tomatoes, bright-colored crates littering the ground like lobster traps, and wagon loads of dark round watermelon and squash.
He generously offered that we carry home a harvest.

He leaned against the trailer bed edge, and cut up pink flesh into wedges, handing them around as we gathered. The thick brown earth on my hands was drying into dust. I smacked off a layer and ate, and watched the dripping juice stain my dirty hands darker where it fell. The seeds crunched and I swallowed most of them.

For most of an hour we savored food God had made, and laughed at the way we threw rinds, or fooled ourselves. When honesty caught the conversation, it came out smoothly, like breathing. Like I'd want it to be: bottled things aged carefully to perfection, but served liberally.
Good has power, and gentle can be rough and tumble, and clear blue has depth like the sky. There are new shoots even while things die. And knowledge doesn't make you wise.

As I carried my bursting paper bag back to my room, I bent and smelled the rich, sweet, varied scents of autumn's abundance, lent to me unexpectedly on a single rare Friday. I could not keep from smiling, and laughed in the shower.

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