Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Aspen, CO, Colorado
And so it came to pass that the impossible happened – I found myself unable to eat another peach.
My very first experience with Paonia, the town I now call home, was of the peaches. We came over to visit one of those u-pick places, and I swear that the first peach I reached for actually fell into my waiting hand before I’d even touched it. I took a bite and sank to my knees, gazing heavenward. How could something this good exist? At that moment, 17 years ago, the peach leapt to the top of my favorite-fruit list, and there it’s remained. Simply put, I loves me some peaches.
We moved to Paonia a year and a half ago, just as the late frost was destroying that year’s peach crop. Our first year in P-Town was woefully peachless. This year, though, the peaches have been abundant and perfect, and for weeks, our house was full of them. There was a stretch where I was eating about a dozen a day. This takes some real discipline, but it’s worth it.
As the season wound down, we found ourselves with an unexpected bumper crop. A friend told us that they were all done picking their commercial orchard and that we could come and take whatever we wanted. For free. And take we did. Boxes and boxes of peaches covered our dining-room table. We sliced them up and put them in plastic bags and stuck them in the freezer until it was full. Then we did the same to my father-in-law’s freezer. Then we bought a chest freezer and filled it up in an afternoon.
It was then that we realized we were over peaches. For now, anyway. I’m sure smoothies in January will be great, but it’s hard to think about that now. Because I … cannot … eat … another … peach. The problem, though, is that despite being out of appetite and storage space, we are far from out of peaches.
So … peach giveaway!
We’re still pretty new to the community, so this will be a great treat for our new friends. Peaches! We arranged them all in cardboard flats, filled our car and set out on our mission. Santa Claus comes early this year, folks!
The first friends on our list aren’t home, so I leave the box of perfectly ripened, fresh-picked, organic, luscious fruit right on the doorstep. I imagine their delight at returning home to such a treasure. I consider leaving a note but decide that the gift will be even more fun if it’s anonymous.
Our next stop is just a block away at our friend Tina’s house. As we pull up, there’s a truck backing out of her driveway, and Tina is standing in her yard. She sees us and yells, “Do you guys want any peaches?”
“Uh … actually, we were just …”
“Cause this guy,” she points to the pickup that’s driving off, “is giving some away.”
I get out of the car and explain that we, too, have come bearing such gifts. She shows me the two big boxes of peaches the guy just unloaded on her. “Unloaded” is her word, not mine.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with them,” she says. “I already have enough other stuff to process. At least he didn’t just leave them on my doorstep without asking me. Some people do that, you know. Can you believe it?”
“Seriously?” I offer. “Jerks.”
How could I have known? As I said, it’s a small town, and I’m still new, so I’m learning that things sometimes work differently here from how I’d think they would. In my mind, I’m dropping off little orbs of pure gold, of succulent delight, but apparently, it’s more like I’m leaving behind flaming bags of dog poop. My friends will totally know where those anonymous peaches came from. I’ve made an amateur mistake, and people will talk. I’ll be branded as the guy who leaves delicious food on your doorstep. The horror!
Yesterday, I knocked on my neighbor’s door to ask if she wanted any tomatoes. Ours are coming in quickly, so I’m looking to share the wealth. She looked at me like I’d just asked if she wanted me to sneeze in her soup.
“Somebody just gave us a bunch,” she said, looking cautiously at me. “More than we’ll ever be able to eat. Left them on the doorstep without saying anything. Typical.”
“That wasn’t me,” I assured her. “I’d never do something that.”
“I’d like to believe you,” she said, closing the door. “But that’s not what I heard.”
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays.
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