golden

You can kind of understand why ancient civilizations — and George Carlin — worshipped the sun, looking at this tiny miracle.

This baby lemon cucumber is less than a half an inch long.  I couldn’t even believe the camera picked up such detail for me.  (I am no professional photographer, as I’m sure you have noticed, and I’m still getting acquainted with F.’s nice digital camera.)  We just ate our first lemon cuke for lunch.  It was still small, not quite two inches in diameter, and it didn’t look much like a lemon after all.  More like a slightly pale, irregular sphere-shaped cucumber.  Our ancestors were definitely creative with the nomenclature.

Who cares what it’s called, though?  It was yummy.  Crisp and with a tender skin and delicious moist flesh.  My half was gone in two bites.  Now I’m impatient for more and have to remind myself that these heirlooms are slow to mature and worth the wait.  Meanwhile, we’ve got a handful of another kind about to reach edible size.  We like to eat them very small — a special treat popped off the vine and chilled for half an hour in the fridge, if we can wait that long.  Today’s were eaten slightly sun-warm, picked about three minutes before they ended up on the plate.

F. is checking the trellis every day, keeping a hawk’s eye on each beloved one.  The other day he actually said gleefully to me, “There’s four that will be ready by tomorrow.  That’s two for each of us.”  Wonderful news worth sharing, believe me.

We have lots and lots of cucumbers in various stages of development.  But we have even more flowers.  That’s because for every female flower, like this one, you get about three male flowers.  These arise on long, thin stems, live only a short while, attract pollinators, and beautify the plant.  Between both sexes, we probably have over a hundred blossoms on all the various plants in the kitchen garden.  But you really have to slow down and give your undivided attention to take in the luminous beauty of a single one.

I know it’s not a lemon.  It doesn’t even look like a lemon — unless your imagination is so flexible that if it were a person it could join Cirque de Soleil.  But this photograph for some reason made me think of a poem I love, so I’ve included it below.  Enjoy!

Ode to a Lemon

Out of lemon flowers
loosed
on the moonlight, love’s
lashed and insatiable
essences,
sodden with fragrance,
the lemon tree’s yellow
emerges,
the lemons
move down
from the tree’s planetarium

Delicate merchandise!
The harbors are big with it-
bazaars
for the light and the
barbarous gold.
We open
the halves
of a miracle,
and a clotting of acids
brims
into the starry
divisions:
creation’s
original juices,
irreducible, changeless,
alive:
so the freshness lives on
in a lemon,
in the sweet-smelling house of the rind,
the proportions, arcane and acerb.

Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
altars,
aromatic facades.

So, while the hand
holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world
on a trencher,
the gold of the universe
wells
to your touch:
a cup yellow
with miracles,
a breast and a nipple
perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.

From Elemental Odes by Pablo Neruda, translated from the Spanish by Ben Belitt

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