Last week our local writers’ group gathered for their monthly critique session. To warm up our skills before the critique, our leader gave us a brief writing exercise, challenging us to take a common word associated with the Fall season (cider, cornstalk, pumpkins, etc) and place it in an unusual context. My assigned word was “apple orchard.” What follows was my offering to the group.
I’d hiked all around the farm market that damp October afternoon when I saw the kid sitting on the curb. Was he eight years old? Nine? He wiped his nose on his sleeve and looked up at me hopefully. In front of him sat a plate of dark green leaves, withered and sere. From his bulging pocket, he withdrew another round object.
“Lady, I haven’t made a sale all day. Won’t you buy my stuff?”
I bent over to examine his meager offerings.
“I grew ’em myself. They’re from my backyard.”
Glancing around, I searched for my husband. When I turned back, tears were running down the child’s grimy cheeks only to be wiped away by an even dirtier fist.
With feelings of pity mixed with disgust, I sighed, “How much?”
“Which one? The apple or chard?”
While I enjoyed the writing exercise as an opportunity to create a play on the word “apple orchard,” I knew my story was based on a real memory. Many years ago I had walked through a Saturday market in a small Mexican town where I lived in the hills of Oaxaca.
There I met a child who looked very much like the urchin in my story, only instead of chard, his tin plate held five ripe tomatoes. I was willing to purchase all five tomatoes, but he refused to sell me more than three. Confused, I asked why he would not sell all five. “Because then I’d have to go home.” Once his “goods” were sold, he had no further excuse to linger and socialize at the market.
So many times we look at the world through our adult eyes and forget to see through the eyes of a child. How thankful I am that God, our Heavenly Father, sent His Son to live here on earth and see our world from a human perspective. Our Savior doesn’t laugh at our often foolish reasoning and or offer help due to pity for our human needs. He responds with love. And that is a blessing, in Autumn and in every season of the year.