Monday, August 27, 2012

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?

Basketful of Peaches from a Neighborhood Tree

"And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” . . .
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. . . .
Do I dare to eat a peach? . . . "


from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
by T. S. Eliot

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a neglected but nevertheless very healthy peach tree just up the street was dropping dozens of golden peaches. Those on the bough were absolutely perfect, and even the slightly damaged windfall fruit was too beautiful to pass by! As a public service, to prevent squashing and slipping, I picked up whatever had fallen on the sidewalk and in the street. Growing bolder each time I biked by, I started clearing the ground under the tree in addition to the street & sidewalk. However, I did not dare to touch any still on the tree! That might be robbing! But was this fruit really forbidden? I had to know! So, on my next trek up the street, I knocked on the door to ask if the householders were planning to harvest. A nice young man (student? renter?) answered and said, with some surprise, as though he had not yet noticed the bounty right outside the door, "No we are not! Please, take all you want, even from the tree." There you go: permission granted!

In fact, I couldn't really pick from the tree since all the fruit - bearing branches were just too high to reach without a ladder; however, for the next week, I went up once a day to harvest whatever had fallen and share with friends. At first there were dozens per day, ripening by the minute! A few times, even as I was bending over to retrieve peaches from the ground, a flutter of ripe ones would fall from the sky, landing right beside me! The harvest has gradually dwindled down to just one or two every other day or so, but during the exciting thick of the season, in addition to eating as many as possible whole and fresh, we baked two large peach crumbles for immediate consumption and froze four make - ahead pies for future feasts and holidays.

We took the first one from the freezer yesterday afternoon and baked it for the Purdue University Glee Club Ice Cream Social, where a piece of delicious pie was had by all:

Black Cat, Blue Willow, Russian Dolls:
This lovely Irish linen dish towel, a gift from Gerry's parents,
combines several of my favorite motifs!


See also
"Kiss Pie!" & "A Pie for Your Thoughts"

5 comments:

  1. Jack Galgon writes: "Reminds me of a time long ago, I think I was 18. Rode a single-speed Schwinn from Cape May to Northeast Philly. A few miles from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, I came upon a peach orchard, probably long paved-over. The ground was littered with perfectly-ripe fallen fruit. I filled a green corduroy sack and headed for home, where my younger siblings were ecstatic for the juicy bounty."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Notes from friends:

    Barbara Tilley: "Oh, how delicious they look!"

    Maggie Mesneak Wick: "Yum ~ I made a peach pie and peach jam this week."

    Beatrice Masters: "Kitti, that pie looks beautiful! A pie in the freezer is a great idea."

    Herman P. Wilson: "Lucky you. Thanks for sharing your 'peach gathering' and for 'daring' to use a powerful quotation from T. S. Eliot; in the classroom I always enjoyed reading aloud the poetry of Eliot.

    Jan Donley: "A favorite poem. A favorite moment in my literature education."

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  3. Translation of Epigraph:

    The quotation comes from Dante's "Inferno" (XXVII, 61-66):

    S`io credesse che mia risposta fosse
    A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
    Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
    Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
    Non tornò vivo alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
    Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

    Translation, from the Princeton Dante Project:

    "If I but thought that my response were made
    to one perhaps returning to the world,
    this tongue of flame would cease to flicker.
    But since, up from these depths, no one has yet
    returned alive, if what I hear is true,
    I answer without fear of being shamed."[18]

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  4. Thanks to Andrea Livingston for sharing this poem!

    From Blossoms
    BY LI-YOUNG LEE

    From blossoms comes
    this brown paper bag of peaches
    we bought from the boy
    at the bend in the road where we turned toward
    signs painted Peaches.

    From laden boughs, from hands,
    from sweet fellowship in the bins,
    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

    O, to take what we love inside,
    to carry within us an orchard, to eat
    not only the skin, but the shade,
    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
    the round jubilance of peach.

    There are days we live
    as if death were nowhere
    in the background; from joy
    to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
    from blossom to blossom to
    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171754

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks to Andrea Livingston for sharing this poem!

    From Blossoms
    BY LI-YOUNG LEE

    From blossoms comes
    this brown paper bag of peaches
    we bought from the boy
    at the bend in the road where we turned toward
    signs painted Peaches.

    From laden boughs, from hands,
    from sweet fellowship in the bins,
    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

    O, to take what we love inside,
    to carry within us an orchard, to eat
    not only the skin, but the shade,
    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
    the round jubilance of peach.

    There are days we live
    as if death were nowhere
    in the background; from joy
    to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
    from blossom to blossom to
    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171754

    ReplyDelete