Although I watched and waited for it every day, somehow I missed it, the moment when everything reached the peak of ripeness. It wasn't at the solstice; that was only the time of the longest light. It was sometime after that, when the plants had absorbed all that sun, had taken it into themselves for food and swelled to the height of fullness. It was in July, in a dizzy blaze of heat and fog, when on some nights it was too hot to sleep, and the restaurants set half their tables on the sidewalks; outside the city, down the coast, the Milky Way floated overhead, and shooting stars fell from the sky over the ocean. One day the garden was almost overwhelmed with fruition: My sweet peas struggled out of the raised bed onto the mulch of laurel leaves and bark and pods, their brilliantly colored sunbonnets of rose and stippled pink, magenta and deep purple pouring out a perfume that was almost oriental. Black-eyed Susans stared from the flower borders, the orange cherry tomatoes were sweet as candy, the fruit fattened in its swaths of silk, hummingbirds spiraled by in pairs, the bees gave up
and decided to live in the lavender. At the market, surrounded by black plums and rosy plums and sugar prunes and white-fleshed peaches and nectarines, perfumey melons and mangos, purple figs in green plastic baskets, clusters of tiny Champagne grapes and piles of red-black cherries and apricots freckled and streaked with rose, I felt tears come into my eyes, absurdly, because I knew that summer had peaked and was already passing away. I felt very close then to understanding the mystery; it seemed to me that I almost knew what it meant to be alive, as if my life had swelled to some high moment of response, as if I could reach out and touch the season, as if I were inside its body, surrounded by sweet pulp and juice, shimmering veins and ripened skin.