The peaches are waiting. And I’m waiting for the peaches. The half bushel I purchased at a farmer’s market last week has been reluctant to ripen. Or at least, they aren’t ripening on the time frame I had in mind.
The blueberries behaved as expected. They were ripe upon purchase, all ten pounds. Their ripeness demanded attention, and they received it. I washed and sorted, then mashed, added sugar and pectin, threw in some strawberries frozen earlier to some batches, jarred it up, and placed it all in the freezer. A pound or so went into the fridge for eating, and a pound was frozen to eat as berries after summer passes. Efficiency and deliciousness reigned.
The peaches had their own plans. I purchased them hard and slightly green on the stem end, lured by their promising if faint smell of peachy goodness. Two days, the farmer’s assistant assured me. They’ll be ripe in two days. So I waited. Two days later, a dozen were ripe. I peeled, chopped, mashed, and processed, filling a few jars with peach jam then taking them down to the freezer. The next morning, six found their way into a cake. In the evening, another dozen or so went into a second small batch of jam. Unfortunately, I forgot to help those unsweetened jars into the freezer, rendering them potentially tainted the next morning. Down the drain they went, my disappointment visible to my older son. “No big deal,” he told me. “Sometimes things go wrong.”
By Monday, I was antsy. Sure, there were more peaches to be made into jam, with plenty of eating along the way, but I was tired of small batches, preferring the rush of the blueberries to the lazy timetable of these peaches. Sniffing and feeling my way though the basket, I made a larger stack of candidates. I washed, cut, and peeled. And then I screamed.
I’m not generally bothered by insects. While I tend to squish them in my own home (if the kids aren’t watching), out in nature, I find them interesting parts of our ecosystem. But when two earwigs scuttled out of the pit of the peach in my hands, I let out a girly scream that sent my kids running to the kitchen. The peach dropped to the counter while the insects dropped out of sight while I yelled at them. I did the sensible thing. I grabbed a Birkenstock from the shoe rack, and returned for revenge. One was smashed on sight. The other had taken to the sink, and was quickly down the drain.
The boys were shaken, which they later said was because they assumed something terrible was going on. They’d never heard my scream over an insect, and they decided the invader must be incredibly dangerous. They must have never seen an earwig, or at least never heard that name. There was panic about ear infestations and more. Just as I was being questioned about our safety, I picked up the peach for disposal. Two more earwigs shot out, I let out another scream, and the peach went flying. Bam! Bam! The shoe was now three for three. The drain-bound fourth was crawling out, so I ran the peels and a few pits down the disposal along with the unfortunate loner. It took a bit to collect ourselves. After pulling up earwigs on Wikipedia, all worries ceased, and jam-making resumed.
I could leave it at that, a tale of peaches and unanticipated visitors. followed by drama and a bit of violence. But given my predilection for metaphors, I must continue.
I’m more comfortable with the blueberries of life. I imagine most of us are. The parts of life that are exactly as they seem upon receipt. The parts that can be dealt with cleanly, with no surprises. And, admittedly,the parts that are not as much work. I’m not averse to hard work, but I do appreciate what comes easily as well. Little in life is blueberries, but I’ll take those parts when they come.
Most of life is peaches, however. Uncertain. A waiting game, filled with chance. Defying planning and rejecting urgency, yielding its best when it is not expected. Unpleasant surprises in the middle of the sweetness. Effort rewarded, but not consistently. An element of risk with no guarantees.
I’ve learned something from my peaches this week. I’ve learned a bit about patience. I’ve discovered a bit about unwanted surprises. I’ve learned a tad about paying attention. I’ve been reminded that waiting is the norm and nudged again to understand that life happens in its own time. The universe gives its gifts on its own time and with no guarantees. Life’s a barrel of peaches, with a few quarts of blueberries thrown in to ease the way. Now back to jam making.