This story was sent to us by Joan Wendland who conducts creative writing workshops at the South Haven Library . This last month a new member, Allison Vraniak, joined who had just moved to the area. Allison works on a farm in the Fennville area. She wrote a stunning piece on telling time through nature. It captured an essence of Liberty Hyde Bailey.
I heard the fruit is late this year, at least compared to last, and apparently, I heard, that's a good thing. Where I come from, just over the state line, being late is frowned upon. I'm on time, or I get nothing, so I countdown the minutes until the next thing, and hope that my route spits me out before the bell. But here, I am told, the fruits' late arrival will mean protection from a late frost. They will survive and thrive and produce enough for all of us. But how was I supposed to know? I'm not from around here. My concept of time is more of the measurable persuasion like, what day is it? What month? Do I have fifteen more minutes to sleep? My connection to time, at least in the past couple of years, has been dialed in, phone in hand, eyes shifting towards the clock everysixty seconds or so, searching my mind for where I am supposed to be next. Or, on a particularly rough day, maybe even wishing those precious seconds away. I have yet to understand time through looking at an apple, a pear, or a peach blossom and knowing where we stand. I have yet to get in the flow of looking at a piece of fruit as it grows and matures and becomes ripe for the picking. But I think I am ready. I want to tell time through fruit. I want to discard the clock that ticks in my mind and keeps me awake and in a place that isn't right here. I want to leave the city in the rearview mirror and live in the open spaces, fill the land with fruit trees and dial into the buds. I imagine I'll be different there. I won't recognize my voice as it loosens its tight restrictions on the pace of things.
I'll look outside, have a glimpse, then call my people on the telephone and tell them,
"I'll see you when the apples are ready to be picked."
"Let's have a visit when the peaches pop."
"Expect to see my car coming up the road when the elderberries are ready for syrup. I'll bring as much as I can carry."
There will be no weeks or months, just seasons and growth.
Tardiness will not exist because fruit trees are always on time, and so are we.
I will patiently watch and care for the flesh that will nourish us, and when it's ready, in its own good time, we'll meet over a basket of berries and plums.
We can lay out a blanket, drink some mint tea, and eat our weight in mulberries. We'll watch the sun fall, and when we're tired, we will go to sleep, and when the sun returns to wake us, we will blink our eyes open and head outside to see what pops next and if it needs more time, we'll say goodbye for now, but we'll meet again, in fruits time.
There will be no endings, just continuations from one thing to the next. There will be no death without rebirth.
Once we pluck, we make space for what is to come, and what will that be?
We will know by looking at the trees or the bushes out in the yard, and in the meantime, we will wait and care for the land.
Note from Allison
Over the past decade I've developed a deep connection to (slow) food and proper nourishment for the body which has led me to learning more about gardening and farming. I was in Costa Rica over the winter, and I went on a chocolate and coffee tour which showed guests everything from growing the plant all the way to the final product that ends up on store shelves. I was mesmerized by the story of common household products that so many of us consume but know so little about. I decided while in Costa Rica that I wanted to work for a farm in some capacity and learn more. Two days later, my friend/boss texted me and asked me if I was interested in working for him in South Haven. How could I say no?