fruitIn the litany of the Anglican Liturgy is this petition:

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, so that in due time we may enjoy them; We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Whenever I’m in the produce section of the local grocery, I am reminded of that lovely phrase “the kindly fruits of the earth”. The sixteenth-century English writer used “kindly” where today we might say “natural”. But the overtones of generosity that the word conveys are apt. That in our day “due time” is pretty much all the time, thanks to refrigeration and speedy transportation, would seem miraculous to our ancestors.

When I lived in a Korean market town in the early 1970s, when Korea’s economic miracle had scarcely begun, spring-time, before the first grain harvest was in (I think it was barley), was a time of stress and hunger for many: the food supplies put up and stored for the winter were running low, and failure of the spring crop could mean disaster. But once that harvest was in, and spring began to turn to summer, a great variety of things would appear in the alleys and by-ways of the market at the middle of town. We’d have strawberries for a few weeks in the late spring, and watermelon in the summer.

I can have strawberries or watermelon year-round, now. But I still love the strawberries of spring and the watermelon of summer most of all, remembering the days when they appeared only in their due time, and were a sign that the scarcity of spring was over for another year.