fruit picking: revisiting memories of previous summers

Rather like the ravenous, darting wasps who seemingly cannot get enough of the windfall apples in the orchard we look out on, I’m a self-confessed fruitaholic who revels in the wider choice and bounty that summer brings to us.

But the best way to appreciate fresh fruit is to either grow your own—says she, happily munching on yummy home-grown greengages from her son’s garden—or to pick your own (pyo) fresh from the field, like I used to do as a girl.

Though I furtively ate a fair share, fruit picking was done mostly in pursuit of extra money in my pocket, to savour the sun and fresh air, and to helpfully keep out of my parent’s way during the long summer holiday. Here’s a glimpse of that experience… 🍓🍒🍐🍏

Fruit picking

I bend to the task before me 
with inky-blue stained fingers 
cradling soft, squishy currants 
with increasing expertise.

My mahogany neck
is a fragile stem, 
crisped by sun’s fierce heat, 
with my hair bleaching 
blonder by the day.

Summer was mostly lived 
outdoors. My sister and I 
could disappear for hours
and venture further 
from home’s confines.

It was a needful breathing 
space in the school year, 
where being yourself 
was easier to bear. 

Stretching like a lazy cat 
warming herself, I smile 
at the heavy weight of fruit 
sat down by my feet. 

A good crop means more 
money in my pocket,
and enough for the full
bus fare home, at least.

Despite the exertion,
it beats potato 
or strawberry picking 
because here I can stand up
to reach the glistening crop.

Wiping beads of sweat 
from my forehead,
I notice how grubby 
my white gypsy top looks, 
smeared with grime 
and smatterings of juice.

Soon I spot someone 
glaring in my direction 
as the line checkers move 
our way. They don't like 
unaccompanied children,

unless they see you working, 
filling baskets instead of 
bellies. I dutifully bow my
head back to the bushes, 

knowing that when I close my 
eyes tonight I will see a vast 
spread of blackcurrants, 
hanging like dark lanterns 
on my closed eyelids.
© joylenton

What childhood summer memories linger in your mind? Can you still savour the sight, sound, taste or smell of them? Do share in the comments below. Xx 🙂 ❤

PS: This poem was created by adapting an excerpt of a post previously shared on my Words of Joy blog and the ACW More Than Writers blog.

childhood: when summers were magical for us

“Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness.” — Henri Frederic Amiel

Noticing

Scrambling on my stone-scratched 
and soil-stained knees,
falling further beneath this canopy,
all feels covert, mysterious,
hidden, concealed

from indifferent adult eyes, 
which tend to skim and skirt
the surface of things
and miss the obvious,
because they fail to look
hard enough.

But now, as my breath breaks free
in tiny gasps, I notice
how the earthworm burrows,
where the snail trail slithers,

how the ants scurry fast,
bees warningly buzz
and soft butterflies flit around,
seeking a fresh place to land.
I note where sharp thorns sit
waiting to pierce us 
unawares, elicit shrieks,
for they know how vulnerable
human skin can be,

how easily a barrier 
can be broken,
and a raw wound gape 
and bleed, like slitting 
open an envelope sleeve.

And I'm learning how a girl like me 
can hide away, close to a veiled, 
unseeing parental gaze.

This bushy undergrowth is like 
a world within a world,
one I long to lose myself in, 
to press into darkness

while my heart seeks out the tiny, 
flickering pinpricks of light
found glittering in the gaps as stars,
gently pointing the way 
forward—like a litany of psalms.
© joylenton

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” — Graham Greene

The poem above has been extracted from my latest book ‘Sacred Noticing: Seasonal Glimpses of the Infinite’ which is available on Amazon. UK readers can access it by clicking on the link above and readers who live elsewhere can find the book by clicking on the image below. Xx 🙂 ❤