What kind of person would do such a thing? I can’t fathom that someone truly hungry and down on his luck would steal every piece of fruit growing on a tree promising a bumper crop. I like to think he’d have taken just enough to eat right now and maybe a few to keep for the days ahead. It can only be pure meanness and greed driving somebody to do such a thing. And to top it all off, those peaches might have looked just the right color, blushing red with well developed clefts, but that fruit was as green as a gourd on the inside! You’d think when the thief touched the first piece to throw it into whatever he planned to haul it off in he’d have noticed that it was a mite too firm - you couldn’t have bruised it if you tried hard! Those peaches would have served a better purpose at batting practice than in a cobbler or pie. Well, if whoever took them is reading this, remember that you reap what you sow (well, most of the time unless someone steals what you sowed).
It hasn’t taken me very long to get over this little episode despite the fumes that are nigh leaping off of the first two paragraphs written here. A friend of Papa’s visited to gift us with an entire bushel of the prettiest peaches you’ve ever seen. Fruit Thief, observe! I could smell how ripe and sweet those peaches were before Sam ever made it to my back porch with them. As I picked through the fruit while profusely thanking Sam for his thoughtful generosity, I couldn’t resist biting into one. The peach’s warm syrup trickled down my chin and bled around my fingers. Juicy stains bloomed all over the front of my tee shirt - yum! I immediately began thinking about who I could share such a bountiful gift with - Curtis usually gets the first such phone call but he’d already demonstrated that fruit cobbler ain’t exactly his forte. Maybe he could figure out simply slicing and freezing some of them.
From where I stand on this little patch of Carolina red dirt, I see honest friends from almost every angle (as long as I’m not looking at my peach tree). While I grilled tomatoes and other vegetables for preserving salsa, tomato bisque and marinara sauce, I used a beautiful hand-forged roasting pan gifted to me by my wildly talented friend, David Collins. Much to the consternation of our parents, David and I gave each other haircuts when we were childhood friends. (Do yourself a favor and visit his website at www.chjoyce.com. There’s precious little this man doesn’t know how to make! Oh, and he’s a much better blacksmith than barber.) Just yesterday Curtis ran barefoot across the street from his house to mine to lend me a volume of haiku written by an author who had gifted him with an autographed copy. My new neighbor, Lisa, dropped by last night to keep me company in the kitchen while I canned marinara sauce and brought a pint of preserved pears from her mother’s pantry. Every week I correspond with a circle of haijin (haiku poets) where we freely share our work and offer friendly, constructive critiques in an effort to become better at what we do as poets and artists. What a wonderful world! (unless you’re looking at my peach tree)...
Roasted Tomato Bisque
6 lbs. vine ripe tomatoes
4 cups yellow onion, diced
3 cups carrots, chopped
2 sticks butter
1 gallon chicken stock
10 ounces tomato paste
1 cup fresh basil, minced
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
*1 quart heavy cream (optional)
3 cups celery, chopped
⅓ cup garlic cloves, chopped
Toss all vegetables in olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast on a fire grill until slightly charred (can be done in a very hot oven but fire-roasting is better!) It helps to roast tomatoes separately from the other vegetables as tomatoes produce so much juice.
Melt butter in a large stock pot. Saute garlic about 4 minutes (don’t burn it!) Add all roasted vegetables, except tomatoes. Cook until tender. Add tomato paste and cook about 10 minutes more.
Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Toss in herbs and simmer about ½ hour. Cool. Puree soup until very smooth in a chinois or blender. Be careful if you’re using a blender as hot liquids expand when whirring about and will burn you. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. *Slowly add cream if using it.
Garnish with a good-quality shaved parmesan and croutons if desired.
And, finally, a haibun to mull over...
my granny was a small bird of a woman with a sweet way about her unless crossed. she never grew to be more than five feet tall, but made up for her size with her actions. she divorced my granddaddy back when women didn't do such things, and raised two daughters with the help of her mother. she worked in the cotton mill for a meager living and took in extra sewing when she could find the work. when i was going through my divorce and the most abusive details of my marriage's demise came to light, she offered, "Let me kill him. I'm old and have lived a good life."
across a field
of plain muslin
Contemporary Haibun Online (December 31, 2010, vol 6 no 4)
Republished in Contemporary Haibun 12, edited by Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, and Ken Jones. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2011. 5.25" x 8.25", perfect bound, 112 pp. ISBN: 978-1-893959-099-6. $17 USD.