Monday, June 7, 2010

Of Ripe Peaches and Farmall Tractors

Picture courtesy Jen Holman, 2009

Orchard Talk
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. -Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NIV)
It's harder to write these days.  It's not that there's nothing going on.  It's not that I don't want to express myself here.  It's certainly not that there's nothing swirling in the F5 Tornado of Thought.  I don't know what the heck it is.  Misplaced mojo, maybe.

But I did have a thought today (yes, only one).  I was mauling the second of two perfectly ripe peaches.  The faint smell of them filled my office.  I usually pick up snacks for work at this tony little grocery store a few blocks from Greener Pastures (Tony Grocery is to El Comodoro as pusher is to junkie).  But when I walked to where my go-to apples usually live, the space was stuffed with boxes of peaches.  Awesome peaches.  Not the green (that's "unripe" in peach-talk) hunks of hard, waxy tastelessness that usually haunt the produce aisle.  The smell locked me in like a tractor beam.

My dad planted an orchard when I was very small, mostly peaches and some pears and plums.  The fruit was ridiculously good, and I would just head out as a little boy and eat until I was almost sick.  Dad's plums were legendary to everyone that knew about them.  They were a "Bruce" that ripened completely blood red. After eating a few of those, you looked like a sugar-high vampire in a low budget horror movie.

He was forever on his Super A Farmall tractor, which was at one time red, but was 97% rust-colored by the time I saw it.  A friend of mine took the picture above of what must be its exact copy somewhere.  Dad would pull a bushhog with it, spray who-knows-what to fend off the rest of nature, disc up the beachsand-like soil with it.  The television I was watching inside flickered and popped from the Farmall's engine (I still wonder at the scientific explanation for that).

Anyway, peaches, if you know, are not a long lived tree, and demand almost constant care year-round, so none of those remain now (Dad didn't replant them). It was a sad day when he pulled them all out of the ground with the old tractor and a log chain.

It occurs to me, there's a reason "vintage" is chic and people love to cut their own Christmas trees and wear bowties when they're hopelessly out of regular fashion.  People need to connect with something timeless.  Something tried and durable.  They need to know that their lives (and likes) are not all flash and evaporating glitter.  To know that someone will look at their photographs in 60 years and just stare, in awe, as we do at old black 'n whites.  Rounded about the edges, they show our great-uncle Walter and his buddies in their Navy duds smoking cigarettes and looking reckless.  They never age.

Right, sorry.  The peaches.  The juice of the things just go everywhere.  My desk, the office floor, my woolen pants.  The taste yanks me back in time about 25 years, standing in the sun in the middle of that orchard, wasps crowding on fallen fruit around my feet.  It had been a long time.

I wonder if I can give Jack any timeless things from childhood.

Last night I might have made a start:  Jack went to sleep to the sound of tree frogs, and a poorly sung Johnny Cash killing tune.  Not much, but a start.

That's Tough, 'Cause We're Playing Church, Anyway
H.M. and Jack were in Mobile last week and I heard this story from an eyewitness:

It seems the Pedantic Prince of Piety stands up on the brick hearth, and gets everyone's attention.  PAPAH!, BUHBUH!, AN' EMUH!, UNKUH DAH!, AN' BAH! (that's Aunt Blake - um, no comment), and MAMUH! were the congregation.  The Cap'n starts waving his arms wildly and singing Number 354 in your books, titled "Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."  He clasps his hands and bows his head to pray, watchfully looking under his eyebrows at the parishioners.  Y'know, you gotta make sure everyone's towing the line.

Jack then blurts "BIBUH!" jumps off the hearth and sprints to H.M.'s bag where he produces his little leather Bible.  He runs back to the hearth with it, prays again (hands clasped), looking up every few seconds with the Evil Eye to ensure the righteousness of all.  He then hits the closing song, reprising Number 354.  With an "AMUH!" that's all, folks.

"You are dismissed."


Gentry said...

Its the simple things (like a peach) that can take you back to your roots. Those oh so glorious growing up in the middle of nowhere sacred roots. I wish I could find something - a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste... just something that could take me back down that country road to our farm where I would pick peanuts off the ground and eat them raw, and try like mad to delint a cotton bowl like my grandparents did when they were young'ns. Oh the taste and smell of that red dirt back home. The kind that would stick in your white tshirt with your sweat and wouldnt come out. Makes me stand a little straighter and swell with pride to think about those sweet humble roots. We must find something to pass on to our boys so they can know how good the simple life can be.

Johnny Cash killin tune ='s a good start. I havent graduated up to the good killing tunes yet (wifey not fond of violence), but the boys do occasionally get a stirring rendition of "Dead Skunk" or "Five Pound Bass" or something of the sort.

Anonymous said...

yes, peaches so ripe that you can smell them when you hit the door of Bruno's. I grab a bag and buy so many! Cobblers, smoothies, ICE CREAM!!! And yes, we have a future song-leader.

El Comodoro said...

Thanks for that, Gentry. Awesome. Just awesome.

Well just to clarify, the killing in the song was only mentioned in passing. But I guess there was other super-questionable activity going on, too ('Long Black Veil').

I did think that I need to learn some less salty songs. But I do try to start with 'Jesus Loves Me,' 'The Lord's My Shepherd,' and either 'Farther Along,' or 'Heavenly Sunlight' before going all country killing and cheating.

Like Johnny, it all starts with Gospel roots.

Beebee, I'm worried about your songleader prediction. Very worried.