Ronald Steed

peach tree triangle


peach tree triangle -
balancing its larder
of sun-blushed peaches

This haiku moment on Enders Island in Mystic, CT, Saturday mid-afternoon, September 4, 2021:

On Enders Island, a peachtree stands, full to overflowing with late summer peaches. It looks so good, you can almost taste the its tangy sweetness. On this mid-afternoon, the tree is part in shade and part in brilliant sunlight. The focal point seems to lie to the left of the trunk, on a downwardly sweeping branch of dense rose-rouged fruit. Behind it in the distance, copper beech trees helpfully provide the contrasting dark hues that cause the fruit to pop in the foreground, drawing the eye unnaturally away from the trunk. It gives the scene a lop-sided, asymmetrical effect that is peaceful-to-the-eye, with a feeling-of-tension. The tree's obtuse-triangle shape helps to balance the scene. The focal point is on the left on longer branches with a more acute angle; the right side of the tree, both closer to the trunk and reaching higher into the sky, give it this balance. Balance. The moment seems like that... held in balance.

This is one of those perfect, near-autumn days when the air is dry and the temperature is just at that point of coolness when when you feel both chilly breeze on the cheek and the radiant sun warming bare skin. A little colder and there would be goose bumps; a bit less wind, and there would be sweat-beading. It seems like both summer and fall are held in balance.

Part of our problem in capturing this haiku moment is choosing the vantage point to work. The absolute perfect place is bathed in bright sun farther left than we set up. Both of us being susceptible to skin burn, we compromise toward a more shady spot under a lovely tree. Even here, the breeze seems almost too cool. It's as though everything about this day involves a seeking of balance between competing constraints.

One of the challenges of painting (thankfully, not so much for writing, but it's not immune) is that sun is always moving so that the light constantly changes. Even in the shade where Roxanne set the easel, the sun begins to encroach on her workspace. It won't be long before our compromised spot will have the disadvantage of heat and color-blanching light. After a while, she moves further into shade. The painter has to look and commit to the light as-it-is at some point. As the work continues, the subject as-seen will make the subject as-painted more and more fictional. The trick is to "hurry slowly"1 and find a happy balance in the light and shade.

Balance. Tangy and sweet... peace and tension... sun and shade... chilly and radiantly-warm... summer and autumn... perfect and good enough... hurry and slowness... now and not yet.

The peaches seem ready for eating both now, and not yet. There are none on the ground, which indicates either that the groundskeeper is picky about fruit droppings, or more likely, that the fruit is not quite ready for taking.2 There is a kind of promise in this moment... something to appreciate now, and something better perhaps to have in the future. They look ready; they aren't quite. And so, we must find the balance in what-we-have... commit to work in the moment as-it-is... and hope for something that has not quite come into being.

  1. Tolle, E. (2021, August 10). Can You be Present and Work Efficiently? Q&A Eckhart Tolle [Video]. YouTube. Accessed September 4, 2021.
  2. Just to show that God has a sense of humor, as we finished and were reviewing each other's work, one peach fell to the ground.

Painting by Roxanne Steed
Haiku and meditation by Ronald Steed
Copyright 2021 ©

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