Saturday, June 24, 2006

"Bean Week"

That's what it was called, though it
was really just a weekend of rush and flurry
near the end of August when it was time
for the late-summer harvest in Aunt Lillian's
garden. Husbands and uncles dispatched
into the hot green corridors thumpingly filled
galvanized buckets my cousin and I ferried
to the three reigning sisters in folding lawn thrones
under the huge maple near the kitchen. They
strung and snapped variously-shaped and -hued pods
as quickly as thought. Once their large bowls
were filled, they disappeared inside the kitchen,
and their places were taken by the husbands and uncles
stringing and snapping, then returning to the alleyways
of green to pick more. To venture into the kitchen
was to enter a world of heat and steamclouds
like thunderheads struck through with the lightning
of the sisters' tempers. But the glistening lines
of empty Ball jars on the counter were gradually
transformed into sealed cylinders of green light
which was the bounty of beans -- bush beans,
pole peans, snap beans, wax beans, lima beans,
French and Italian and broad beans, beans
transmuted from soil and water and light
into the stuff of winter dinners such as would
sustain us through the months to follow
after. Hallelujah!


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