Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Earth Air Fire Water

Mother earth lends me her body.

Father sky lends me his breath.

I’ll return them in a bit, no overdue notices, no late charges.

* * *
The garden is mostly past its prime.

The left-behind zucchini are fat, ignored, baseball bats. The tomatoes are fading, a few green ones still hang in the cool fall air, like people waiting for the last bus of the night, not knowing it’s already left.

The carrots, though – the carrots are big and sweet and crunchy. I pull one, leaves eighteen inches long, the orange root, about six. I brush off most of the dirt and bite into it.

I’m eating Colorado’s thinnish air and Colorado’s overbright sunshine and Colorado's last-winter's snowmelt and Colorado's dirt, all woven into carbohydrates and proteins as the genetic windings of a carrot seed instructed and as the sprouted plant could manage.

Two weeks ago, I picked the last of the blackberries. They, too, were woven from the same Colorado air and water and earth and the fires of a far-off sun, but on a different loom, a different warp, a different weft.

The tomatillos came back this year as volunteers from the ones we left for the birds last year. We got more this time than last.

I crunch the carrot. The bits get small enough, and I swallow. Swallowing raw carrot always feels like giving up – in my mouth, its roughness never feels quite done. I leave it to digestive fires to get what they can from it.

They’ll unweave the weavings, some. Unbuild the complex sugars into glucose that can oxidize with adenosine triphosphate to power muscles. Free the vitamin A from the cell walls where the carrot used it as a sunscreen; leach it into my bloodstream; bathe the cells, one and all, allowing those with vitamin-A-sized holes – the retinas have lots. They'll harvest the carotene, embed the molecules into particular proteins, and put them to work processing photons into electro-chemical signals that can trigger nerve fibers. Those, of course, run into a brain and a mind that has come to think certain orange-colored taproots are worth munching.

And so Colorado earth and air and water and fire come to see themselves.