Returning to Wang Tong after more than two weeks away is like traveling through a time warp. Many of the things I'd been waiting for all summer were finally starting to bear fruit, literally.
For months--endless seasons, it seemed--I'd watched papayas clinging to the trees, hard and stubborn and a strict military green so remote from yellow that it seemed they'd never ripen. Every time I passed a window, or walked past a papaya tree jutting from our or a neighbor's garden, I'd turn to look, and it seemed that they hadn't increased in size and didn't show the slightest hint of softening in shape or color.
Then I went away.
Then I came back. The abundance I'd been waiting for was now waiting for me. The papaya trees were noticeably lighter, and ripe fleshy fruit had found their way to the kitchen counter. The sugar apple harvest was also coming in. Chinese call them 番鬼荔枝--faan gwai lai ji--meaning "foreign lychee", a sweet tangy fruit made up of squishy sections each with a mahogany-colored seed inside. The end of summer also means the fading of the lotus blossoms, so we can harvest the pods and seeds to boil in soups.
If only the rest of life was like that. If only I could go off somewhere for a couple more weeks and return to find that all the things I've been waiting to come true, those projects I'd planted and nurtured and fussed over, would have finally borne fruit. Maybe that's all you need, to turn your attention elsewhere, run to Georgia and back, and meanwhile your dreams and aspirations will have become ripe and soft and life would be sweet.