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It is afternoon. I am sitting at my desk trying to write. It is not going well. The temperature is 100 degrees on the deck and the humidity not far behind. The air conditioning is not adequate for the day. 

Just beneath my window is a fig tree, hardy as far north as Chicago they claim. At best, every third year I get a fig or three. This year the setting of fruit has gone, well, bananas, apples, raspberries, blueberries and now figs. I am looking at one now, half in the sun, plum colored and twelve feet off the ground. Soon I will have a pan full, split in half, sprinkled with brown sugar, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sizzling from a few moments under the broiler. Do I dare add a dash of cream, iced or plain? 

How weird is life just now? We enter the second year of Covid with a more virulent variation; the second year of “The Big Lie;” the second year of science or magical thinking; of politics for personal gain or country; of the futility of a 20-year war in Afghanistan; which followed the seven years in Iraq; which followed the twenty years in Vietnam; which followed the three years of Korea; which followed the six years of World War II.

Might we have better traded all those lives, bombs and guns for vaccines or food? Might the world be less volatile? I am 87. For 56 of those years we have been at war. After World War II, and perhaps Korea, to what end? 

Last night Jack and I came home from a friend’s house. The cicadas and tree frogs were raucous as the harbingers of seasonal change. The moon waning, and we limp towards Fall. 

And yet, still, I harvest the earth’s offering: tomatoes with basil and salt, freshly dug potatoes, and one plump, ripe, purple fig.

Nol Putnam



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