Wednesday, 06 October 2010
This is a guest post from Playing With Fire and Water.
I don't know what happened to the peaches this year. Did the stars and/or planets align just right? Or were my unwitting prayers answered by a peach fairy?
I have no explanation, but I'm convinced that something super natural took place.
My peach tree is now seven years old. It was just a whip with roots when my father gave it to me; no thicker than my thumb or longer than my arm. Looking at that stick-in-a-pot, it should have taken an elastic imagination, or a leap of faith, to believe that one day it would produce bushels of fruit, but I knew better. I had seen him nurture these things; spent a lifetime watching sticks turn into trees.
I planted it even though I had given up on growing fruit. The loss of a half dozen fruit trees, along with the dream of an orchard, was still painfully fresh.
It was three years before the tree bore fruit. Just enough for a few pies at first, the yields continued to increase with each passing year. Quantity was never an issue, but if I'm being completely honest, the quality of the fruit has been unremarkable in flavor. Last year, they were insipid, at best.
If anything, gardening is an investment of hope. I take the time and effort to grow plants with the hope that they will produce something extraordinary. When they don't, I assess the circumstances, make adjustments, and try again. Or, if they require something beyond my control, I move on.
A tree is different.
Trees take years, sometimes decades, to hit their stride. When there is so much time and effort and hope invested, it's not so easy to just start over.
Last fall, after the disappointing harvest, I was pruning the tree and considered taking a saw to the trunk and starting anew. But I didn't. I confessed my intention to my father, hoping he wouldn't be offended. He just shrugged and suggested I waited another year.
I was acutely aware on the day that I picked the first of this year's peaches that it was the two month anniversary of my father's passing. I won't get into whether I think that he, in spirit, had anything to do with the transformation. I won't even get into whether I believe such things are possible. I will only say that every peach that I picked off my tree this year was extraordinary: intoxicatingly fragrant, embarrassingly juicy, a flawless balance of sugar and acid. They were everything I hoped for.
Do you have any fruit trees in your yard? If you could have any tree, what would you have?