The Sentiment of Peaches
Our story opens up on a hot summer day lost under the skies in Prince Georges county. It was July, the year 1976. Life was so cool. It was hot real hot the temperature had peaked a day earlier at 100 degrees, ice tea and lemonade weren’t doing the trick. Ahhhh.... The sweet summer relief of having a pool in the back yard. Robin stood by the ladder of the swimming pool as her two sisters Dee, Dee and Cori stood in line behind her awaiting their turn to climb the ladder and escape the misery of the heat and constant humidity.
“Cognac” the faithful family dog stood among the girls, this was his place and no one could expect anything less of him. Conac was a perfect specimen for a German Shepherd. A retired police dog straight from the ranks of the Prince Georges County police department he stood stoic among his new family never once letting his guard down. Rick too was a police officer from the same police department as Conac and was given the German Shepherd by his comrads when he took a bad spill on his motorcycle. The spill had put Rick on disability and he spent a lot of time reliving the incident in his mind, looking to get beyond it any way he could.
Rick watched as his daughters climbed into the pool. Rick with his wife Barbara sat at a red stained picnic table on the concrete patio that was covered over top with wood beans. Through out the wood beams long strings of grape vines were massed right above their heads blossoming with big purple and green grapes ready for picking. The constant humidity of the summer kept the grapes in ample supply for a taste of sweet sun kissed refreshment to any willing picker.
Rick and Barbara were peeling peaches that were picked from the three peach trees that lined the wooden picket fence in the back yard beyond the four foot above ground swimming pool. Beneath the locks of her chestnut colored hair were dark circles around her eyes that appeared almost like mascara that ran after a long hard cry. Her eyes were puffy with fatigue from working the graveyard shift as a nurse at a hospital that suffered from acute under staffing.
Barbara was looking down at the mason jars armed with a paring knife and a white silk scarf that was covered in red paisleys to keep the sun off her head and the sweat off the back of her neck. Barbara had lost herself in the midnight hours of the hospital sometimes disappearing into oblivion for the sake of the cause. Not yet knowing how to sleep during the day she didn’t want to miss a minute with her girls that represented every bit of her sweet sanity that she felt slowly slipping away. Just a word here or the hesitation before laughter when she wanted to cry a river for all the deep dark secrets that were locked deep inside where no eyes could see. Everything was perfect in a world that her and Rick created. The past was the past and damn the memories that toyed with what was left of a very shaky emotional foundation.
Basking on the patio peeling peaches with the best part of all their life swimming in the pool. The couple looked up to the sound of the back door opening. The big wooden pea green door swung outwardly as Rick and Barbara traced the very steep black diamond plated steps that led all the way up to the big green door and winced in the sunlight to make out the familiar figure looming above them.
A voice bellowed downwardly at the couple on the patio with a deep raspy voice to announce her arrival. “Whater younns doin down there”? Although the couple could not see her, there was no mistaking the strong Pennsylvania accent of what everyone has come to know as “Nanny”. Nanny stood on the small steel back porch outside of the kitchen door with a cigarette in one hand and a large wooden spoon in the other. She was rolling her false teeth around in her mouth, a habit she fell into shortly after being fitted with the artificial bicuspids.
In her mid sixties this woman had hair as white as the driven snow. Nanny was relishing in the enjoyment of three grand daughters as well as a son in law that took care of her daughter, Barbara. Nanny was living to live and enjoying every second of her retirement and could associate well with just about anybody in conversation.
Nanny was old school through and through but had the knack to adjust
to her grand daughters in a way that made her understood. Nanny changed her attention to the swimming pool and the all the splashing from it’s occupants and burst out with a huge grin from ear to ear. Just the sight of Nanny from the girls splashing about gave them a heightened sense of excitement that swelled in the waves they were making as the water splashed over the sides.
Conac raced around the outside of the pool trotting back and forth looking upwardly in anticipation at the height of the splashing frenzy knowing in his k-9 heart the sound of joy overflowing, in the voices of three young girls. Rick’s voice rose above the very loud swimmers and yelled up at Nanny. “Hey what are you doing?” “Why don’t you come down here with me and Barb and help us peel some peaches.? Nanny waited a second for the girls to quiet down and responded. “Na younns are gonna hav to finish it up cause I’m makin dinner now.” “Younns peel em and I’ll can em.” This sounded like a reasonable offer to Rick so he just nodded in agreement instead of trying to raise his voice over the sound of splashing contentment.
Barbara had struggled to not let her past come boiling to the surface. Rick had to overcome the nightmare of a debilitating motorcycle accident. Both of these issues were pushed aside for the one recognizable truth that towered above all in their midst. They had three beautiful daughters and from their eyes came the richest, brightest sunlight that illuminated everything in their view. It cloaked the darkness that only dreams could daunt and calmed the most bitter anger to a lull after a benediction in a storm.
This could not be about the many problems they faced present or past this had to be about the promise of the future and the opportunity to change direction. A willing gamble in a land of promise. They could not see the future but they could taste it, they could not hear the voice of God, but they could feel it. Everything that perseveres forward is laid in the hands of grace. Be calm to your beating heart as a canvas was filled with color and the smell of ripe peaches permeated the air in the back yard of a home on Elmendorf Drive somewhere lost in the month of July in the summer of 76............. These are dreams to be remembered.