I’ve often said that summer in Texas wouldn’t be worth living without homegrown tomatoes and Parker County peaches. Parker County is just west of my home in Fort Worth, and when it comes to tree-ripened fruit, the closer to home, the better. Same with tomatoes just off the vine.
While preparing my breakfast one recent morning, I started to peel a peach. Only after I’d cut into the skin did I notice that it was a perfect peach, a painter’s peach, the peach of an Old Masters still life: a garnet blush in one spot, a golden glow in another, a couple of leaves still attached.
I wasn’t in a hurry, but I was hungry. So I continued to peel it, and I relished the fruit’s mild flavor and soft texture. I found another peach in the countertop bowl, almost as perfect, to photograph in the afternoon when the light was right.
But it made me think. How often do we hasten through life without stopping to appreciate what’s right in front of us? We pass the same building every day, then when it’s bulldozed, can’t remember what used to be there. We spend the present moment reflecting on the past or planning the future. We eat dinner with friends, talking to them while music plays in the background. Are we really paying attention to any of it?
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh writes of mindfulness, that “happiness is possible only in the present moment.” His book Peace Is Every Step describes his “Tangerine Meditation,” in which children are guided to look at a tangerine, to reflect on how it grew, and to fully smell and taste it. “You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine,” he notes.
I imagine he’d agree that the same is true of a peach.