The heat spike caused a surge in everything, including that which was holding back leaves and flowers—dogwoods bloom; a limb, an arm of flowers, reaches out of the knoll. The ditch row trees are in their full but modest splendor. Beauty, I know, is in the eye of the beholder, but these small trees make it look effortless.
If you put your hands as blinders on both sides, you might be able to shift your position, using that tree as an axis, to the extent that you find an aisle of open space. It was into this small but certain aperture that my neighbor and fellow farmer, John White, went. How can we not, when we bury our elders, fear the burial of the Sagaponack they knew.
There was no stopping the asparagus. It rocketed right past picking stage. If, one morning, it was just a little too small, the next day the same stalk was skinny and too tall, with its head beginning to open. This is a time when, if I had time, I could literally watch it grow. Instead, I witness the rapid growth like this, after U-finish-cutting the field, I could go back and start at the beginning again. The asparagus grows so fast that it is still partially blanched, white as it is underground, and brittle too.
So the final days of the season take on the likeness of a grand finale. Big explosions, small explosions, zooming out of the earth in a profusion of variety and quantity that promises it will all be over soon. Now, we enter pea season, and if you’re one of the pickers, you return to the familiar territory of a sore back, as you stoop, quietly teetering between purgatory and personal insight. I wonder how many novels were written, but not written, as the author plucked, from the endless row, endless peas, putting them in a basket that would surely never be full, not at this pace.
Pea picking is a herculean task but one that goes unrecognized, because it is done ounces at a time and often not by the person who buys the peas for a dinner side. For the people who eat the peas, it is the shelling of the peas they consider hard work. Some will even jest that I should be paying them, especially since “all that work, and you only have a tiny bowl” of shiny little peas—green pearls that are so tasty that we both, customer with weary fingers and farmer with weary back, must assign a non-monetary value to the delight that the fresh peas so briefly issue.