It's summer. The temperature isn't uncomfortable, but any movement provokes the humidity to crawl around you and cling to you with a ferocious and one-sided love. There's nothing much to do, and the idle warm days turn into idle warm nights until the passage of time is barely noticed at all. The sun has set, but the diffused glow shines down my driveway and casts lazy half shadows on the ground. I'm standing outside the back door of the house, watching the moths and the other indistinguishable insects fluttering around the timed light above my neighbor's door.
I've got a roll of wire screening in my hands along with a pair of scissors, and a sheet of twist ties between my lips. Standing in front of the tree, I look upwards and take count. This is the fifth summer after we have planted the Asian pear tree, and the pears have never ripened. Although it produces more than a hundred gumball sized fruit every year, squirrels tend to eat all of them once they exceed the size of a golf ball.
It's an easy enough job, I try to imagine. Outwitting a squirrel shouldn't be difficult. I cut a square from the netting and hold it around one of the dozen remaining fruits, trying to think of ways to secure it. A couple of bars run through my head of an anonymous song, and I hum it again and again and again. Folding and refolding the screen square, I do my best to cover the fruit. I settle for a familiar shape, bringing the corners of the square together to form a wonton. I secure it with twist ties and pinch the edges together.
As I begin working on the third wire screen cover, I let my mind wander. Although it's summer, I'm thinking about school, and about college. This is it, I think. There is an award winning college essay written in this moment, and I just have to figure it out. Here I am, standing in my driveway in the light from my kitchen window, and I am composing topic sentences and paragraph transitions that I will never actually use. I prick my fingers a couple of times on the loose wires, but I keep threading the twist ties and folding the screen.
Another metal dumpling down. Here's an analogy for my biracial identity. I bend down to the next fruit and get to work. As I'm folding the next square, I feel the bite of a mosquito on the back of my leg. If I swat at it now, I'd drop the little makeshift cage that I've spent the last five minutes forming, and I'd have to start over. I ignore the growing itch, and fold the wire into shape. Here's an example of my determination to finish the tasks that I've set. I stand back to look over the tree, and to admire my work. Tidy looking wontons hang at the edges of branches. It's a peculiar sight, but it'll do the job. If a squirrel can get through this, it deserves the fruit. Here's an example of my out of the box thinking.
It has been gradually growing darker, and soon it's too dark to see the top branches of the tree that I've been working on. I light up my wristwatch, and across the yard a firefly echoes my false bioluminescence. It's late, so I gather my things and go inside. I put the things back, the twine and the twist ties into the drawer, the scissors in the jar by the phone, and the spare wire screen back into the closet with the gardening gloves and gardening supplies. Whatever great admissions essay hides in this moment that has just passed, I will let it stay mostly hidden. After all, it's summer.