Watching the colors already turning the mountains to blood and gold, my thoughts turn to soft grasses under my feet, the smell of the river, the toss of a stone.
The harvest is coming.
Savoring the sweet tang of peaches and the smell of burning leaves… still two of my favorite things this time of year. They inevitably pull me back in time to an old orchard, yellow tall grass.
On the other side of a wooden gate, a canal ran to somewhere through the tall weeds and grass. The water was always cold and crisp, flowing in that swirling still way that let you know it was swifter than it appeared. It gave a fresh, cool scent to the air, making the apples ripening on the surrounding ancient trees give off an aroma you will never smell in store bought fruit.
Often I would go down to the old orchard, despite warnings from my grandma that there were tramps down there. It was my hidey-hole…my piece of sanity.
It was this place that I turned to even after high school had started. Most days until the snow drove me indoors, you could find me under a favorite old peach tree to the left of the gate. You couldn’t see me right off. I had wound a trail in the grass down to the river bottoms and would follow the bank, double back and weave a line to the west side of the low hanging, untended tree. There I would slither under the boughs and sit in the green grasses that never seemed to dry out like the veil of gold in front of me that hid me from prying eyes…should they come, which they never did.
The lone peach tree was my refuge, fort, room with a view. I dreamt of love there. I planned beautiful prom dresses and nights of enchantment that drifted into winter mist. Wrote in my diary. Unsubstantial and ethereal dreams. The most beautiful and romantic room I have ever known.
When the peaches ripened, I would take out a knife and cut into the sweet, sticky flesh. They were the sweetest, tangiest peaches I have ever eaten. Carefully leaning over the canal to wash my hands, my book of poetry waited under the tree. Sometimes, I would would read aloud, pouring out my heart to an unseen lover that I prayed would magically appear beside me. Other times, my bag would be full of watercolors, brushes, and pad, trying to master the spiraling curls and wisps of hair from Mucha’s drawings and posters.
The tang of rotting peaches to this day brings back to a place that exists now only in my mind. The orchard is now a parking lot for a medical center. It was at this tree that I realized I had fallen in love with a “elvish” boy in school. The tree knew my secret and my hearts desire. I wove seventeen years old school girl wishes and spells made up in my heart in the golden grass, twinning it and braiding it and tossing it in the creek to float gently to the lake. Did I dare to tell him? No. At least, not for many years later after I did meet him again and married him, the Lord of my Heart.
We drove back, 6 years ago, to where the tree had stood. He confided that he, too, had done something similar under cottonwood trees, much farther upstream in the canyon. He had bitten off long, leggy grasses and thought about me in an unreachable way. His longing had traveled the river, traveled the ages, winding it’s way past the old orchard, detouring into the canal and passing close to the peach tree.
Whose wishes were stronger?
Well, I guess we received what we had both asked for all those years ago, never dreaming that the blood and gold of August would grant us our wishes, even though it was brief. Those four years will last a lifetime as I tick the days away, waiting for the elven boy to return, peek under the boughs of the peach tree taking my hand and leading me to his mountain home by the river.
(August 22) 2016 copyright LAS. All Rights Reserved.