I tugged on the handle of the heavy root cellar cover to lift it to one side in order to descend the steps to the underground room that serves as a year round natural refrigerator on our farm. At the bottom of the stairs, I opened the thick sealed door to permit a shaft of sunlight to illuminate the inner darkness–there is always a moment of wondering what I might find on the other side in such a mysterious place. A rush of cool earthen air blew back at me as if displaced by the light that had rushed in. Until I snapped on the lights, it was as secret as a womb harboring its precious cargo. This place smells of dirt and moisture–the lifeblood of the fruits and roots that tarry here until it is finally their turn to be brought up into the light. Potatoes, onions, apples, pears, nuts all resting and waiting, as if suspended in time.
It had been awhile since my last visit. As the lights blinked on, I blinked too in unbelief. There had been a startling transformation, as time no longer was standing still as it had through the winter. Long white arms, almost waving with enthusiasm, were reaching out from the potato bin in a desperate searching plunge through the blackness. In this dark place, their blind eyes must sense a better place and set out on a mission to get there. The naked shoots were so entangled one with the other, it felt voyeuristic, as if I was witnessing something private and personal.
I gathered them up, apologetic for causing them a moment’s doubt about their destiny. A trench was dug, they were placed gently at the base with shoots pointed toward the sky, and the dirt swept over them in a burial that was more commencement than coda.
The eyes have it, having reached for a light not seen but sensed.
Was blind, but now can see.