This Time

Mid-morning yesterday I dove into the pond, the fallen apples on the surface bobbing in rippled water displaced by my body. The water so cold that for a moment I found it hard to breathe and felt a flicker of panic that perhaps my lungs would somehow forget to fill again. Later, dried off and warmed up, I drove to the local filling station for diesel, parking next to an old Mercury Grand Marquis with a tattered landau roof and rusty quarter panels. I’d say mid-90’s vintage if I were a betting man, which I am, if the stakes are small enough. There was a value-size pack of Bounty paper towels and a pile of clothing in the back seat, an open case of Bud Light cans on front passenger floor, and a Trump That Bitch sticker in the rear window. A young couple eating something deeply fried at the single table inside the store. Rail thin, both of them, and I knew the car was theirs, because they were the only other customers in the place, and for a moment I struggled to make sense of it all: The car, the sticker, the couple, nothing what I expected, almost like that panicked moment in the pond waiting for my body to return to its usual business.

The young man met my gaze and offered a curt nod, and I nodded back.

Driving up the road toward home, I noted the foliage line on the mountain, saw that it was lower than the day before, and considered how in the fall I witness the season’s progress from the top of the mountain down, while in the spring, I watch the color creep upward, slowly rising toward the last stubborn holdouts at the height of the land where even in May you can find pockets of boot-topping snow.

Then this morning, milking, lost in rhythm and reverie, I was startled by a thump. I looked around, trying to place it. Then another, and this time, I saw the apple fall.


19 thoughts on “This Time”

    1. Thanks, Renee. Ready for winter? Well, we won’t go cold or hungry, I guess. So in the physical sense, yes. Not so sure about the psyche, though;)


      1. No but we got our first thunderstorm last night. Poured for about 15 minutes. Real nice. Real welcome after 4 months of no rain at all. I am anticipating another winter of torrential rains based on historical evidence. Not raining yet but getting ready.

  1. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” annie d.

    I think I can speak for all of us readers, Ben, by saying we fully appreciate how you spend your days.

  2. Thank you for sharing your observations. I wish everyone took that extra moment to observe. It’s amazing the stories that can be told from the time it takes to draw in a breath and focus for only a moment.

  3. You know what happened to Newton when apples fell. πŸ™‚ I love how mountains extend the seasons in that encircling ribbon too! When we were in the flatlands of Illinois, fall came all at once, everywhere. But in the mountains, it slowly creeps over 3 or 4 months depending on elevation, which for us here varies as much as 8,000 feet. Somehow that makes all seasons unbelievable longs as you can chose to park yourself in whatever season you wish. πŸ™‚

  4. Have the swamp maples turned scarlet yet?

    One of my favorite memories of growing up in rural northern New England are the seasons when the maple trees paint the hills with an endless mix of orange, red, and yellow.

  5. Paying attention to the real life details looks like a lot of fun. I almost forgot to look around and to listen to real life. Thank you for inspiration!

  6. Around here, we call it having a “nose” problem. But I am the worst of all and I would have been stuck all day, trying to fit those pieces together into some kind of coherence…imagining scenarios that would somehow make the disparate, cohesive. It is a wonderful craft you practice, certainly giftedness, but also so finely honed – thank you.

  7. Like Newton who calculated F = ma from the falling apple, you discerned that a battered Grand Marquis = not what one would expect. And I calculate that a pond plunge in mid September = instant change from bass to soprano voice!

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