Sunday, June 17, 2007


The truth is, cherries have worms in them.

It's one of those things that you don't really want to know, but if you find out, you feel obliged to tell.

Our neighbors have a cherry tree - big, beautiful, with drooping branches that the husband despises because they almost knock him off of his riding lawn mower come spring. Every year the wife watches for cherries, sees them arrive small and green, and then one morning wakes up to a bare tree! She has no idea what happens to those cherries, but she strongly suspects the birds.

This year, I came home from a walk to see a ladder perched under the tree, and only her legs visible as she harvested red cherries by the handful. I ran and got a bowl, and wandered around underneath, looking for the low ripe ones, filling my bowl, and popping some into my mouth as we chatted.

She said her grandpa used to own a whole orchard of cherry trees, and she remembers picking them as a child. She also remembered her grandpa saying to the children, "If you find a worm, don't worry, it's just protein!" She laughed nervously. But, overcome with the bounty of that tree, the birds hassling her with flapping, indignant wings from above, she picked cherries and planned cobbler.

I took my bowl home and announced free cherries to all (organic!), but somehow they didn't attract too many buyers. I decided that maybe I would try a cobbler too, since they were a bit sour and I could clobber them with plenty of sugar. De-pitting the cherries was a doubtful job, with the insides looking...not quite as pretty as the outsides.

The third cherry held the prize. A fat, squirming, segmented white worm, pointed at both ends, writhed at the sudden light. It was half an inch long and if it landed whole on your tongue, you would know it. Scraping the beginnings of the cobbler into the trash, I resolved not to tell anyone. What is a little protein? I would be the stout farmer's wife who grew sturdy, healthy children, who were not the worse for wear from a little worm now and then.

But I would not eat another.

I recently read the story of an Eskimo, who asked the visiting priest, "If I did not know about God or sin, would I go to hell?" The priest answered, "No."

"Then why did you tell me?" he said.

Why, indeed.

My daughter happily popped another cherry into her mouth and I watched her chew, and spit out the pit, and I couldn't do it.

"I found a worm in a cherry," I said. She was crestfallen. She's not eating them anymore either. I have successfully ruined her for wild cherries, picked from our neighbor's tree, for all the springs yet to come.

The truth about cherries is something I sort of wish I didn't know.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Not Much Goin' On

I watched a spider crawl the wall,
and I expected him to fall
when he slipped and lost his step,
but he threw out a thread instead.

A single, silver, saving line,
and twisted on it for some time.

Then he resumed his sure advance,
inching 'cross the vast expanse.

Today I watched a spider crawl,
to him, the world,
to me, a wall.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Silly Putty

There is no escaping the tangible qualities of life.

I sat down this morning to write an essay on The Art of Play. I had been walking in the early summer chill and reflecting on the idea that we do things, most of us, because we enjoy doing them.

It seems an obvious concept, and yet so many times we stop doing the things that we enjoy because we realize that they are good for us. As soon as I say to myself, "I need to walk everyday," I stop wanting to walk. I have forgotten the element of Play that prompted me to walk in the first place.

I forget what I love about walking. The early morning smell of dampness and the tempered brightness of the sun. I forget about the edge of coolness and the quiet at that time of day. I forget about the feel of my leg muscles lengthening and stretching, and the awareness of my body that comes from moving it.

I started writing about this, ready to explore the implications of why we are so drawn, as adults, to abandon Play. Somehow we feel compelled to measure the productivity of everything that we do. We are uneasy with the idea of playing for the pure pleasure of tactile sensation, or scaling the mental monkey-bars of daydreams just because it is fun. So we immediately discipline it into a form that is respectable to someone else. We make it public, we receive affirmation for it. And then we don't really like it anymore.

Play is pure, fleeting, temporary and un-formed. There is a time for play but you cannot schedule it. There is a time to stop, and you cannot prolong it past that time. It is personal, and shared only with those who can play along without dissecting or directing it too much.

I started to write about all of this, but my daughter has reported to me that there is Silly Putty stuck in her fleece pajamas.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Word Infallible

My word,
the breath-sound of my life
is the mirror
and the light
and the truth of who I am.

My vibration,
the hum of my soul,
purrs with gentle power
furrowing pathways ahead,
leaving a wake behind.

My tone,
the energy of all my creativities,
the voice of all my love,
paints my world and defines it,
colors my word into song.