agriculture’s. local. seductions.

My husband bikes home from the Saturday Farmer’s market, saddle bags bulging with South Carolina peaches and blueberries, fresh corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes, maybe some okra to sweeten up my favorite meal, the seductions of summer.  That’s for tonight, when we fire up the grill and sacrifice a pink fleshy salmon to the flame; but for breakfast we’ll batter up some whole grain pancakes, puffy with local blackberries and pecans, and soak them in the dripping sap of a Vermont maple tree.

Meanwhile, miles away, my father is quietly abstaining from the good life.  A tiny piece of  something went somewhere God never intended – and he choked on dinner, inflamed his throat, went gurney-wise to the emergency room and back while a painful, relentless cough set in. EMS returned him to the hospital the next morning to have a feeding tube reinstated which had inconveniently dislodged; an infection was found and scoped, cleaned, and treated; anesthesia, morphine, recovery, two days in bed.  Food, when there finally is some, will be an injection of liquid goop in a tube along with some orange gatorade and liquified medicine, bypassing his throat altogether.  His throat is out of the game, at least for now, his swallowing muscles having run the ball to the wrong goal.

Food is our way of ingesting life:  the warming sun and loamy earth in leaf and seed, or fish from the cold vigor of the sea.  When I eat, I become ever more a part of this planet, infused with the forces of these farming islands, fragrant with the flower blossoms that enticed bees into the sex of honey.  When I eat, I take on weight, gravitas, sinew, root; I am bounded to the kin-doms of plant and animal; I am lashed to this place by a million Lilliputian minerals.

So that, when I, or you, for that matter, or my father, no longer can eat, we start to unbind.  We lose those planetary connections; the threads that lash us here are snipped; we hover slightly above this agricultural plane.  Fasting makes us so;  elevated, unmoored to the earth.  Closer to spirit, some would say.  Freer to imagine a mystery beyond this heft, this weight, this earth.

My father is slowly relinquishing life’s bounty, one taste at a time.  His senses have lost another song of praise.  With each loss, life becomes less flavorful, less pungent, less – just less – of this good earth.

It is hard rising above these ripe colors, into the pure, untethered light.

~ by Susan on 06/16/2012.

2 Responses to “agriculture’s. local. seductions.”

  1. Beautiful reflection on paying attention to all of life with gratitude & grace and the challenge of watching one that we love let go…. thank you

  2. I’ve let this sit and simmer in my heart and soul for a week, and am still not sure of the words to express all that you so tenderly capture. My mom was so determined to still eat long past when it was advised, or even remotely possible. These tastes, textures, this bounty that tethers us to the earth — it is all so ripe. I’m there with you Susan. Through every morsel of this bitter meal.

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