THE JAPANESE PLUMS were so orange, so ripe, but the lowest branches drooping over the gate had already been picked clean. Only a tantalizing cluster at the tip of a high branch — beyond my reach, I imagined, even with a running leap. I tried anyway. I’d just finished a twenty-minute walking meditation, and I was feeling in the zone.
The leap felt good when my shoes left the sidewalk, and my trajectory was exactly on course, but nailing the lift-off wasn’t good enough, I learned, as the plums loomed larger in my vision and my hand met only air — the fruit was simply too high.
Then something strange happened. At the pinnacle of my leap, the branch bent down toward me, pushing the cluster of plums into the palm of my ready hand, and I ended up with two plums.
I’m almost positive it was a squirrel I’d frightened, springing from the same branch at exactly the right moment, but I didn’t see any squirrel up there. I only heard the small commotion some creature made and deduced it was a squirrel. My eyes were all on the plums.