The Art of the Everyday

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.

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10 Responses to The Art of the Everyday

  1. Charles says:

    Love it! We have several bottles of fine wine in our closet that have passed their prime. Pity we chose to hoard them too long. Peaches and tomatoes don’t wait long unless…………you can them or dry them. But you’re right, their prime time is fleeting.

  2. Seré says:

    This is a lovely reminder, Carol. Behold the peach, indeed. For the past couple of years, we’ve treated ourselves to a flat of peaches at the peak of the season from Dry Creek Peach Orchard. They’re amazing, moan-inducing peaches! I’m always a little wistful when the last one’s gone.

  3. Charles says:

    PS – Congratulations on this little corner of beautiful.

  4. Carol Nuckols says:

    Thank you.
    Charles, I’m sure you practice mindfulness with all the fine wines you open in their prime, along with the lovely meals you’re always creating.
    Sere, I’m like you — I’m always sorry to see the end of peach season. I wish I’d spent the summer in the kitchen with the canning jars. This was a stellar summer for Parker County peaches.

  5. Ronda Fulfer says:

    Great story, Carol. It reminds me of your Mom. She was teaching me draw with pastels one summer and she had me draw an arrangement of peaches. We were right there close to where you took the picture of your peaches, in much the same light.

  6. Elle Newmark says:

    Is there anything better than a perfectly ripe peach? It has everything, the sensuous pelt, the heavenly taste, the sweet flesh that melts in the mouth, and the scent of everything that is good about summer.

    Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorite teachers, but he can keep his tangerine. I’ll have the peach.

  7. Chelo Diaz-Ludden says:

    Thanks Carol, we need, or at lest I do, this reminder to stop and smell the peach over and over again.

  8. sperlygirl says:

    a lovely post and reminder (came over from imperfect prose), warmly, s

  9. Kati says:

    This is great! I’ll try to remember it next time I see a peach.

    For me, it’s sunsets. Taking the time to enjoy the sunset each day makes the rest of the day that much more real, and it points me back to what’s important and beautiful.

  10. patty says:

    i think this is particularly interesting b/c we associate the scent from the oils of tangerines with the feeling of joy, and that of citrus in general, invigorates. to sit and breathe that in while trying to be mindful… helps bring us to the heart of it.

    and btw, i agree.

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