Why We Need Peach Trees & KidsEach season, branches and the fringes of their shadows are filled with chances
Thereís the front yard, the house, the back yard, the garage and then an extended piece of land my son and I call ďthe outback.Ē We use it mostly for exploring the abundance of sprawling plants and roaming plant lovers that seem naturally at home there. It is here, in this unkempt, easily dismissed area, a peach tree stakes a claim to a corner next to the back of the garage.
This ole scrap of tree received a stay of execution from the local contractor hired to clear the mini-forest behind the garage. I had just moved to Church Street and simply wanted the entire, unappealing, mosquito-haven removed. Mr. Curry asked the fate of the pitiful-looking, no-name tree and I said I didnít care. Somehow, that unimpressive, unassuming tree blended into the dark nook where brown garage joined rustic wooden fence and survived the massacre. If I ever get enough money for landscaping, that tree will have to go!
Perhaps this worn out tree will die in its sleep or maybe a dry spell will finish it off. In the meantime, I can chain the dog to it, anchor a clothesline and, if need be, snap it into kindling.
As heartless as it sounds, my feelings are only as uncaring as this lifeless, knotty remnant that clings to the earth, refusing to acknowledge its turn is over. Its skinny trunk supports only one main branch, which stops abruptly and jaggedly about nine feet up. There are five smaller branches, which arch awkwardly like pigtails. All but one of these fragile-looking offshoots dip below the gutter line of the garage, enabling me to reach them by tiptoeing.
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Earlier, in spring, I did exactly that and handed my five-year-old one of the tiny, barely fuzzy objects that filled the branches like a flock of birds. There were more peaches than leaves. Maybe I should thin them and test the sacrificed ones against the end of a bat? My son promptly threw the green rock into the middle of the outback and giggled. After sharing the few things I know about peaches and feigning hope they would grow to edible size, I handed Omari another as we walked to the front of the garage. He threw this one off to the side and laughed harder. His respect for the peach seemed familiar.
A few days later, the peach near the garage entrance had been nibbled. Eventually it disappeared, along with my recollection of the peach tree, even though I had been enjoying Stoverís Farms peaches, preserves and pies from the Farmerís Market downtown for several summer weeks.
Now, nearly five months since discovering the newborn fruit, I enter the backyard with my camera to finish off the roll. I capture a bumblebee on a purple Rose of Sharon, the white tubular bloom of the waxy green Hosta and a view of the sky through pine needles. Just inside the outback, next to the short growth, flies and ants tend a half-eaten, reddish-yellow peach. I actually wonder where it came from until I get closer to the peach tree. Unlike the mulberries and pears punctuating the ground and sidewalk beneath their parents, there are no peaches in sight, not even young ones. My gaze moves up her raggedy body to empty arms except for an inviting cluster of peaches on a vibrant leafy branch dangling into the alley. I hurry to the other side of the fence where tall bushes and plants fill and define the boundary between alley and fence. As I lean in, I am annoyed by peck marks on the two largest peaches and disgusted by the flies and hornets feeding on the glistening orange flesh of another. The two I squandered months ago suddenly seem more precious. I take the last few pictures and play tug of war for the only peach left intact, which is also the smallest, hardest and palest. I am told squirrels pick peaches by spinning them. Yeah, but can they make cobblers?
After a few days near my kitchenís south window, the bland-looking, speckled peach is surprisingly soft. I wash it, cut a sliver and then bring it apprehensively toward my dry mouth. Though I expect a tongue-curling, eye-closing tartness, sweetness and juiciness ensue ó a beautiful surprise from an ugly tree.
How could this be the same tree? I think leaning against it will shatter the trunk, exposing the fluffy, rotten, sawdust core. I always expect to find it prone after being storm-whipped; but only pine and maple branches succumb. Admirably, this scraggly survivor humbly fulfills its purpose while dandelions, poke salad and flamboyant wild collards concern themselves with grandeur and space.
I retrieve the last pit from the trash, rinse it gently, then carry it silently out the back door. As I push it into the seemingly expectant earth, its own little spot in the outback, I finally realize my son knew exactly what he was doing.
[From Eloquence: Rhythm & Renaissance by Usiku at http://www.usiku.net]
The ability to look on the funny side of things is just as important as looking on the bright side. If you're truly serious about personal growth you'll laugh a lot along the way. "Why We Need Peach Trees & Kids" contains humor for that very reason. It's good for the spirit. It's fabulous so many are becoming involved in the political process. This interest has also spilled into the national economic crisis. With so many debates and discussions surrounding these issues, it's easy for many newcomers to get some information a little mixed up. My sister is one of them. She thinks Jimmy Buffet is who Barack Obama said could help with economic policy. It's Warren Buffet. She didn't question me at all when I said, the name of Warren and Jimmy's grandfather is Old Country. I'm glad she's at least voting for change. I'm amazed at how many people, when given the choice: You can be a fool if you want to, will choose that option. Things are getting so bad in the economy, I went to rob a bank and they took my money.