Maybe cotton bolls and pecans aren't the first items on the list of things that make you think of fall. But for some reason, this year, they are right at the top of my list. (By the way, I've recently learned--from a pecan farmer himself no less--that the proper pronunciation is "pee-can" and not "puh-cahn," much to my disagreement. Or is it "puh-can"? Dang, can't we all just get along?)
Anyway, so this morning I enjoyed my extra hour, no, not by arriving at work early for once, or heck, even on time, but instead, by pulling over on the side of the highway to take pictures of rows and rows of cotton plants. I had the Sumter-to-Charleston drive today, and for the past few weeks, I've watched these little white puffs sprout, and I just find it so amazing. Future Q-tips and blue jeans right there in the field. Like I said, amazing. (And yes, I grew up in the city, not the country, so I often find myself unusually amazed by cell division and other everyday-life-in-the-country things. All of which is to say that in the battle between neon lights and plant life--a battle that is raging all around us, maybe even within us sometimes, with or without our consent--I hope the latter wins.)
Zelda popped her head up in the backseat and peered out the window while I traipsed along the shoulder of the road clutching my camera; she was confused. But when I hopped back in the car, I explained to her that my little cotton-photographing detour was a bit like how, on our walks these days, we pause at every pecan tree we pass and scan the ground. When I find a good one, I stomp on it ever so slightly, just until it cracks, and then I pick it up, peel it open, and divide the fleshy contents between us, so both of us can taste a little bit of the season. These things--fields of cotton and pecan-littered sidewalks--come around just once a year, and this year, I'm doing my best to pay attention.