gathering

I descend from a line of gatherers
little surprise then
to find myself shortly after dawn
with a basket on my arm
 head down   line of sight on the lawn
seeking among the grass   the fallen leaves 
of the walnut trees
for the nuts which have begun to fall
 ripe ready  from heaviness  
  from the signals of summer’s wane

as I find them  basket them
I am reminded of trips to the chicken coop
when I was four or so  with my mother
and the slipping of eggs from beneath
the warm underbellies of red hens

I am reminded of fall visits from my grandmother
 for whom I am namesake
seeking mushrooms in the Ohio woods
putting them in this very same basket
the seeking posture also   the same

in both cases a race against
 the other gatherers
in the walnut case   squirrels
in the mushroom case   snails and bugs

these black walnuts  the toughest nuts to crack
 lime size and lime green
(this  a year for large ones)
the husks  already   blackened softening  on some
 the precurssor event to shedding the husks
 which in this signaling of readiness
 stains the fingers of the collector

occasional skyward glances
 to detect which trees are nut bearing this year
then to ground again 

the eye develops a talent for perceiving
 a seeing through the camouflage
rendering the fallen nuts near invisible at first

already I am thinking ahead
to how I will protect them from my competing collectors
   squirrels  and raccoons   
while they complete   outside
   the shedding of husks that I might then
   begin the arduous task of cracking them open
   for the second harvest   getting to the meat of the matter

above me  sky sailing  the wind pushed clouds
  the heave and roil of tree tops
  dew and last night’s rain  and leaves   loosed and dropping
   about me  on me

there is music here
  the sounds of all these fallings
  the percussive efforts of several woodpeckers
  distant crow conversations
  scream of hawk
  songs of unseen birds whose names-by-song
    I do not yet know
  the occasional road rumble-bys of milk tankers
  pickup trucks caboosed  with corn harvesters  hay balers  
    other gatherers out in the early day  intent upon collections
     of their own
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One comment on “gathering

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