Part One the august sun shines like a spotlight on the ten year old joyfully riding her new green bicycle (without the training wheels) down the gravel driveway. like a pro, not even braking, she leans to the left and whizzes onto the dirt path packed down through years of truck tires. through the trees she rides, slowing now, for the pull of the dirt is harder on bicycle tires (though easier on knees). the trees bow to her, the queen of the bicycle. the sun glints through the leaves and the air is saturated with the sweet scent of ripe peaches and the hum of satisfied and satiated bees. she pays no attention to the glorious around her because she is ten years old and not yet aware that her childhood Augusts were golden. Part Two the grandfather is waiting for her to tire of riding circles in the orchard. he figures it will take twice (maybe three times) and she’ll be ready to listen to the lesson that peaches teach. he has the ladder ready when she drops her bike next to the old green farm truck. “Want to help me pick some peaches?” he asks. he steadies the ladder and guides her small hand as they reach, touching the fuzz gently, gently, every squeeze will bruise these peaches easy as you bruise those knees. gently gently she places the peach in the basket looped over her skinny arm. he moves her hand to another hanging low on the branch. see how green? see how fuzzy? peaches have to ripen on the tree. their juices have to be warmed by the hot August sun. they take their time ripening and can’t be hurried. you can’t pick the tree clean, you have to go again and again to the same tree. peaches teach patience. together they fill the basket, moving the ladder around the tree taking their time — savoring the tree-ripened juicy chin-sticky sweet yellow sweltering August patience-teaching peaches. patience is not his usual shape, this short round man in the straw hat and farm clothes teaching peaches to the skinny girl with bruised knees. she learned peaches. she learned love. she still stamps her foot at patience. and she still can’t abide sickly grocery store peaches.
For the next few weeks I’m taking an online poetry course over at Monna McDiarmid’s place. This first week we were asked to write about childhood, and if we wanted, to use the color yellow. I probably won’t post all the poems, but this one I liked because it was such a good memory of my grandfather, who built Apple Hill Cottage. And my sister sent me this photo just as I was writing the poem…It’s a work in progress. Comments welcome.