To Understanding Love
Today, after sleeping in later than I ever have in a long time, dog staring at me with longing eyes, I asked Chico if he wanted to go on a walk. He leaped in excitement up to the bed, nudged me with his whining cries of happiness to get up, to move, to take him with me. OK, ok. I grabbed a couple of reusable shopping bags and walked to the farmer’s market. My garden I tilled into the grass lawn of the rental house where I live is bursting with most everything I need right now except one item, something I long for from my house in Logan: peaches.
I tie Chico to a tree on the outskirts of the Farmer’s market next to the small gathered group of coffee aficionados sitting in lawn chairs each week sharing stories. I am only doing one pass through the market. After last week, I know which places to avoid, but not sure which ones are the best. Last week I bought from the most expensive and the least. Neither was outstanding. Perhaps my expectations were too high. How can anything compare to the trees I planted myself?
I stop at the first table with Sierra Beauties with dark rings of Saturn-red. The skin seems almost to have been burned from sun. They are a unique cultivar I have never heard before. I know Sierra Beauty apples. I take 10 or so of them into my bag, pay, and continue to walk. I come upon another booth where a boisterous man talks of peaches. His signs hand-written to say “organic,” and his price fair, almost the cheapest. He has Fay Elberta peaches; it is a variety I know well. The Elberta is a common cultivar. The Fay has some subtle differences. I miss the Redhaven peaches from my yard, but the Fay Alberta is a classic yellow peach. He says they were picked this morning right before coming down to the market.
I look for ones not bruised, but not too firm. As I do this, another lady wedges in alongside me. She picks up a peach, turns the soft fuzz in her hand, holds it up to her nose and inhales deep from the fruit. She sets it back down and walks away. They look good to me, much more yellow than the dark crimson of the Sierra Beauties, but color can be quite superficial in the peach world. The white peaches are too sweet for my palate.
The man comments, “I don't know what a person is looking for when they come up and feel a peach like this, and then turn away from it.” He was priced as one of the cheapest and it couldn't have been price. They were surely not over-ripe either, but he ponders that perhaps they are looking for something less ripe. I didn't think he really wanted an answer. It seemed more rhetorical to me. I grab ten more peaches, place them in my bag and hand them to him to weigh. He subtracts for my bag, then says wait and reaches over to a golden pluot and puts in my bag. “Try this; you will love it.”
I go back to Chico waiting at the Camphor tree where he is tied. He stares to the direction from which I left and doesn't see me approach; when he does, he is excited. I take him off the leash and we meander back home, stopping at the creek for him to drink. When I get home, I set down the two bags of peaches on the tiled counter. Pull one of the Fay Elberta peaches from the bag, run it under the cold water, slice with a knife along the soft flesh until the sharp blade meets the stone drupe at the center. Delicately, I pull the two halves apart. The drupe remains in the one side and I pry it loose. There is something entrancing about rough flesh and blood red of the center of the peach. The texture is alarming, murderous, and sensual.
I put one half to my mouth and feel it melt to my tongue. I have learned to love the soft fuzz of the skin, the way it slowly peels away from the dripping flesh, the bitter tough texture against the fragile fruit. The first half is gone too quickly. It fades from the tongue like desire and I quickly consume the second half with all too much vigor and it is over. Sometimes, I think about everything it took for that one fruit to get to such beauty, the distance of the sun, the movement of water, the dance of the bees, the delicate hands of the harvester, and my devouring desire lasts but a few seconds until it is all relegated to a memory, joined together with so many other peaches. Can I remember this one?