I didn’t see it happen, but I saw the day go by. That morning, making the rounds, I noticed that the blackberries were all still pink and red. Looking nice, but nothing new. Later that sunny afternoon, on my way to pick some lettuce, I looked again. This time the center berry of every four bunches or so was dark, shiny black. Ripe. It happened that fast.
That’s when I knew the old folks had been right all along. Life really does speed up. I remember as a child and young adult hearing my elders say that the years seemed to go faster as they grew older. It didn’t make a lick of sense to me then. Now it does.
And really, it’s mathematical fact, backed up, as usual, by life experience. Our children growing, playing, and stretching themselves upon the seasons set the example perfectly. One year in the life of a three year old is one third of his life. One summer in that life is a loooong time. A year in the life of an eight year old, one eighth of her life, is still a pretty good chunk. But she has enough experience to know that summer is precious and variable and well worth savoring, especially with friends. I remember that feeling, even now.
One-fortieth of my life is passing by this year, and that is starting to sound kind of small. Of course, hopefully, the fraction will only get smaller. The longer we stay, the quicker that trip around the sun seems. As this quickening becomes more and more real to me, I’m adjusting, learning first not to panic. I’m also beginning to think that we should rejoice in those long moments of agony that accompany waiting, just for the nature of that slowness of time.
Of course, a summer is still a summer. There’s nothing that changes about the length of the days or months themselves. Only our perception. And that’s what the numbers can’t tell us.
I will not quantify the nearly painful burst of flavor from that first blackberry. There is no acceptable measurement for the joyful sweat that beads from the cut of the first crisp cucumber. And no accounting for the sweet purple jelly from the inside of a fresh tomato. It would be like trying to capture the silence of a newborn baby sleeping, or the exuberant laugh of a happy child.
So the old folks were right all along. They probably knew we’d catch up to their way of seeing things eventually.