I just took an early morning walk around my neighborhood. My “morning constitutional,” I call it. The birds are out and about and it’s still comfortably cool. A nice time to walk and a nice way to start my day.
About half way through, I got a whiff of something. Very subtle – it must’ve been a long way off. Maybe some honeysuckle. But my brain, not getting enough to work with, interpreted the sweetness as peaches.
Peaches. Immediately I was transported to a day close to fifty years ago. I was about 20 and my fiance 21 and we were in the back seat of his parents’ big old car, taking a trip somewhere in Georgia, and his mom was taking a shift at the wheel. His folks were like parents to me, so in addition to being his fiance, I was the daughter they never had. One little happy family.
On this trip we had peaches, fresh Georgia peaches. And I had some shortbread cookies. Lorna Doones. Back then they really tasted like shortbread. So we were in the back seat gorging ourselves on fresh, juicy, sun-ripened peaches and Lorna Doones, and probably making a big, juicy mess. I can still taste it like it was yesterday. Fresh Georgia peaches. We probably bought them from a farm stand on the side of the road. I don’t know how we got away with eating peaches in the car, but we did.
And then, not being content with my peaches memory, my brain brought up oranges. Ice cold, juicy, sweet Valencia oranges. Fast forward a few years and we’re a married couple, living in Florida and I’m pregnant with my first child.
Someone had brought us a bag full of the oranges, right off their tree. “The best way to eat them,” this someone said, “is to get them icy cold, then poke a hole in them and just suck the juice out.” So that’s what we were doing. Bent over the kitchen sink, juice dribbling down our chins. As soon as we sucked one dry, we’d grab another. Man, they were good. And that juice was so-o-o-o cold. I don’t think I’ve had oranges that good ever since. Got to find me some like that before I check out. Not those tasteless, thick-skinned things I find at the grocery store. The real deal. Life is too short.
And if I wanted to turn this into a novel, I’d tell you about some of the most delicious, thinly sliced, perfectly flavored flank steak I ever ate, hot off my dad’s grill. But I’ll save that for another day.