Years ago in Seattle I knew a woman who named her daughter July Peaches. This struck me as preposterous at the time, but now I see the beauty in it. So brief, so sweet are the peaches of late July and early August. Memorable, special – who wouldn’t want such a name.
Standing over boxes of Missouri peaches in my coop, I locked eyes with the woman across the display. She was older, hunched, and looked to be in some physical pain. We were both filling our plastic bags as tightly and fully as we could with the golden, rosy orbs. “I just eat them standing over the sink – two or even three at a time!” I told her. She LIT UP – a smile spread wide: “Me too! I’m so glad to know someone else does that!”
I had to leave my daily dose of peaches when I went on retreat in upstate New York two weeks ago. We were at a Zen center outside of town and I didn’t have a car, but I got a friend to drive me to a market one day. I bought five big peaches, and another friend, knowing my craving but not knowing I’d found a ride, gifted me a sixth. They were still hard so I put them on the windowsill in my room to ripen. After two days, I started testing them. I bit into one. Mealy. I threw it away – my pain over wasting fruit no longer as great as my promise to myself to eat what pleases me. I bit into a second. Mealy.
One by one – thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud. Somewhere, a peach farmer wept.
I was at the coop again yesterday looking for the giant boxes that had been overflowing just a week before. I heard a man ask the woman who was stocking with a plaintive tone: “Where are the peaches?” Her face fell, as though to bow in memory and gratitude: “They’re all done. No more.”
All the man could say was “Oh…” as he demurred the plums she offered in their stead.
All done. The whisper of winter gathering with their passing. The pits dormant in compost piles. The golden, orbs living in fleshy, juicy memory until next July.