Sunday, September 23, 2012

September beans

September always knocks me for a loop.

When beans were perfect back in July, each one smooth and vibrant, dense with life, we had too many to eat in a day, a week, a month.

July beans eaten fresh off the vine defy words. Moments after I eat one, I can no longer remember the intensity of its taste, so I eat another, then another, munching away until my belly's full of beans. The early summer sun's excess light feeds us all in July, even as we sensed its loss--the days were already getting shorter.

The sun is dying now. September shadows now stalk the beans, and I become aware of what I live to forget.

Autumn beans are far from perfect--I think of the gnarly, sun-spotted fingers of old folk as I pick from the nearly bare vines, prickly with the short stems of perfect beans, long picked, long eaten. Each bean now has a story to tell, the blemishes evidence of its brief, precarious life.

I notice my fingers as I pick, creased and scarred as the beans, which surprises me.

The taste of fall beans does not overwhelm--I can remember their taste hours later, and I have no urge to gorge on the few we harvested today. No one celebrates the taste of fading September beans.

The beans have less heft now, but they taste good enough. The gnarled, dry husk guards the still sweet dampness inside, and the imperfect taste, each bean not quite the same as the next, makes the few on the plate worth eating.

While picking today, I spotted the blush of an impossibly pink tiny flower low to the ground, sitting in a patch of autumn light and I imagined the bean it once could be.

I doubt there's enough light anymore for the flower to become much of anything, never mind a bean, but I doubt a lot of things.

Come November I will find the last one or two beans on the near leafless vine--leathery, barely edible. My fingers will still look younger than the November beans, at least for now.

Happy autumnal equinox!


Jenny said...

I'm grateful for the cycles of things when we hit this time of year. As many of my favorite fruits and vegetables are quickly disappearing, the apples are coming on strong. (So are the squash and eggplant, but those interest me less.) Saying goodbye to things, even temporarily, is easier for me when there are other things to say hello to.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Apples heal a lot of pain for a lot of reasons--and few things beat late autumn kale and Brussels sprouts.

(As an added bonus, some local clam beds open up in November.)