An apple drops crashing through leaves and branches, narrowly missing a bird that is relieving other hanging-on-fruit of the menace of caterpillars; plunging downward like a skydiver sans parachute the apple lands with a thud; a dead plant stalk impales its nearly perfect skin, puncturing a wound adding to the bruise of arriving at its destination on time but to fast for a soft landing.
All of this before a clock hand could sweep past two seconds. Only on this clock, the next sweep of the hand awaits, waits, stands still until attention is lost to something other than time.
And so I go back to sipping before the steam escapes with all the robust flavor of Smithsonian Certified Bird Friendly coffee and migrates back to the shade-grown coffee plantations in the Sierra and La Frailesca regions in Chiapas, Mexico.
Some of the birds in our backyard also are preparing for their rise to the thermals as they head back to their wintering grounds.
A red-eyed vireo looks down silently from above. All summer its Presstissimo song kept the tempo of time from sunrise to sunset. Now it seems to be reminiscing summer romances played in Adagio - slow with great expression.
Meanwhile, a black and white warbler (zebra bird for me) darts about the apple tree too light to knock an apple loose, but moves fast, and is alert enough to spot tiny worms, spiders, caterpillars, and insects that are too small for me to observe even if I could fly up into the tree for a closer look. I know the avian predator has found breakfast as I watch a snapping munching beak.
A hummingbird zips past me with a buzz of a giant fly, pouncing upon jewelweed blossoms atop seven-foot-high stems; perhaps I spilled a bit of caffeinated upon their roots earlier in the spring.
High atop one of our butternut trees, a lemon yellow breast with black wings, a tanager already in its fall foliage having lost, like the late summer sun, most of its hot red semblance now turned to the yellow of our black cherry, sugar maple, and witch hazel.
Bumblebees scour the last of the yellow Maximillian sunflowers bowing to the goldenrod which bow even lower in respect for its taller brethren.
Peppers race to finish their transition from green to yellow, or orange, or red; they know their time is short too.
The gravity of time surrounds me; if I were inside, the weight of falling through bounded space would age me and plummet me faster than the falling apple, my hair turning the color of snow, dropping from the branches and leaves of my head, alerting me of my inevitable final migration.
Fortunately, I am outside. No mechanical unrelenting sweeping hands here. Only an occasional falling apple or butternut racing down to remind me time outside is not lost, only postponed, delayed, slowed for the intervening period.
Nature offers me time, between drops, to observe, reflect, appreciate life as though it was endless, timeless, everlasting.
I am in no rush to reach my final destination, have no desire to be reminded of time quickly passing. I will savor my bird-friendly coffee just as the birds that benefit from it savor the insects on our pesticide-free fruit trees and shrubs.
We are all on one sort of clock or another. I prefer mine with gaps and only occasional reminders just as nature marches to the reduced daylight hours gradually closing out the summer season.
When the next apple falls I will measure out the enrichment from the life I have observed about me, in the intervening flutter of wings and wispy rise of coffee bean steam.
Always there is something to appreciate and treasure,
no less so than time in nature.