Mosaic Community Essays

—Dr. Michael Fine
Scituate, Rhode Island

White peaches are done for the year

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The white peaches are done for the year.

I’m lucky to live on the same street as Sunset Orchards, eighteen acres of apple and peach trees in Scituate that keep us in fruit in the late summer and long into the fall.  Matt and Katy, who run the orchard, are the light of the neighborhood.  They are in their early thirties.  Matt grew up on the street and took over the orchard about five years ago from other neighbors who had farmed the orchard for over a hundred years. 

There is nothing like living here and seeing first, peach and apple trees in bloom in late April and early May, and then seeing the peaches and then the apples develop on the trees, starting as  tiny green nubbins, the peaches yellow and red, the apples now red and huge, the bent-over branches laden with heavy fruit ready to be picked.

I love the tart apples of late summer, their tang and crunch as you bite into them and the pies we make from them.  But this year I discovered white peaches for the first time.  White peaches are so sweet and so delicate that they can’t really be shipped ripe. Their flesh is easily bruised, their skin so delicate that it rips the moment it is touched.  The peaches themselves are so juicy that you have to eat them with particular caution, and even then they are likely to make a mess of your hands, face and clothing.  But they are also impossibly sweet and firm and bursting with juice, just the intense pleasure of the moment, of summer, of the fullness of what the earth can produce for us, if we nurture the earth and the peach trees and support the work of the people who help growing things grow and produce in this spectacular way.  There is nothing quite like eating a white peach that’s completely ripe, right off the tree.

And then, like each peach, the summer is gone.  It was here.  It is gone.  It was so good while it lasted.  No one lives forever.  I’m torn between the sadness that I feel about losing what was here and is now gone,  the delight of remembering just how good it was, and the anticipation of what comes next: yellow, orange and red, the colors of the fall, the huge heavy yellow glow of an autumn moon, the crisp light on new snow, the burnt sweetness of maple sugaring in late winter, the lime green of new leaves  and the yellow of the forsythia blossoms against the snow in early springtime – and then seeing the apple and peach blossoms in the orchard in the spring again. I’m grateful that I get to live where there are trees, where there is an orchard and people who know how to care for those trees, and can look forward to tasting those white peaches at the end of summer again next year.

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