An Absence of Yellow

By Lisa Laughlin

November 21, 2016

An Absence of Yellow

It’s mid-August and already my grandfather’s pumpkins boast a bright orange. His cucumbers have laced thin vines up the patio rail. The tomatoes flush cherry-red in waves.

My grandparents bribe me with vegetables to come for a visit: "We set some zucchini aside for you." It’s not that I need to be bribed; I’m just busy and grown and moved away. But I do seem to show more dependably for vegetables. I have a memory of her teaching me to sprinkle white granules of sugar on a fat slice of tomato, on a Fourth of July where I’m messy-haired and sunburnt. Last year I skipped the fireworks at their house.

But today I have an hour, and can help them harvest their small backyard lot. I bend more easily than my grandpa to twist a cucumber from its prickly lair. I pluck a past-ripe tomato that he missed. He shows me how to tell if the acorn squash is ripe – you must lift it up, gently, to check underneath for a spot of yellow. The softball-sized rounds are surprisingly heavy; I maneuver the weight and think of bedsores. My grandpa’s pleased so many are ready – I twist six, seven, eight from their stems.

“How about that one, there?” he asks, and squints at a dark green shadow. I check the round squash. There’s no yellow. “Not yet,” I say, and exhale. I picture the squash as never quite ready; I dream that their garden ripens forever.

Photo "Acorn Squash" provided by Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr's Creative Commons licence.

Comments (4) - Post a Comment
Gorgeous and quiet and layered. And lord, Lisa, your verbs are so strong. Great piece.
Laurie Granieri at 8:52am EST - November 21, 2016
Such a succulent piece with wistful overtones. Thank for this glimpse!
Karen Egee at 9:07am EST - November 21, 2016
From a once-was granddaughter and now a grandmother: Thank you.
Jan Priddy at 10:23am EST - November 21, 2016
Makes me long for next summer's tomatoes–gold, orange, green, yellow, red and black beauties as II pass on the dull-red pulpy orbs that my grocer is required to carry that will only deliver disappointment.
Stacy Lawson at 4:22am EST - November 24, 2016


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