The Temptation of Sweetness

forbiden fruit
My favorite place in all the world is Ashbury’s peach farm, not because his dog is friendly or his gun ain’t loaded, but because his peaches are so juicy they drip down my chin and stain my T-shirt yellow. You’ve never tasted a peach so sweet as an Ashbury peach. You can eat the windfall, or the fresh pick and you won’t find a worm in any of them. I think they must be like Eden’s peaches. You know, the kind Eve skipped over when she got a taste for apples. If I were her, I’d have stuck with peaches.

I’m sucking on a peach, thinking on Eve and her master transgression, when I see Ashbury’s Hell Hound come sneaking up. It ain’t no Pit but it’s still got bite. I’m about to get treed when I see James Ashbury and he’s smiling real big.

“You gonna call that hound dog off?” I got one foot in a tree, both arms hugging the trunk, my half eaten peach stain’in my T-shirt pocket. I feel his eyes on my bare legs moving up to my peach stained shirt.

“Maybe I will.”

“Or maybe you won’t!” I yell, climbing up onto the first limb, my feet dangling over the old dog’s head. Looking out on the orchard I marvel at the acres on acres of peach trees. Looking back down I see James and that smile of his. He’s cute enough but his father’s no friend of mine.

“Mazy Reed, why are you always stealing our peaches?”

“Because, James Ashbury, you grow the best peaches in the whole county?”

“Well, you’re right there. We grow the best peaches in ten counties. Now, why don’t you hop on down here and I’ll tell you what’s even sweeter than our peaches.”

I spit a pit down at the dog. I wait and watch to see what James’ll do next. That boy’s eyes don’t leave me. Neither do the dog’s.

“You gonna call that hound off?”

“Yes Ma’am.” To prove his word he whistles the dog away.

I don’t leave the tree ‘til I’ve had another peach. It’s no good getting caught if you haven’t eaten your fill. Slowly, I slide down the trunk ‘til I feel the cool grass and hard dirt under my bare feet. The sun light’s all soft and yellow coming through the heavy leaves above.

“So you gonna tell me what’s sweeter than peaches?”

“Well…” James drawls out. He’s cute. Damn, he’s cute. I remember him when he was a senior in high school. I’ll be a senor this year but none of the boys in school can compete with James. He’s fine.

“Well?” I ask, “You said you’d tell.”

“That’s right. I did.” He walks slowly up to me like I’m some sort of wild animal that might take fright. Then he leans in, and ever so slowly, he kisses the juice off my neck.

“Now, you behave!” But my words don’t come out as serious as they were meant to.

“I’m behaving,” he whispers. His lips make their way to mine. It’s a sweet kiss, a peach flavored kiss, the kind of kiss you dream about all your life but never really think you’ll get. It’s the kind of kiss that goes on so long that you lose your breath and forget everything you though you knew about life and living and kisses. When it ends, you just want it back again.

“Mazy, do you know what’s sweeter than a peach?”

“This.” I kiss him before he can say more. It doesn’t matter what he’d of said ‘cause he’s mine now. Just like his peaches, I’m gonna have all his kisses, when and how I like ‘em. Pulling back, I look into his soft brown eyes; eyes that reflect acres and acres of heavily laden peach trees. It’s all Eden, all over again because truth is, it was never the sweetness of the fruit that led Eve astray.

Mothers and Sons

mother's and sons

When my son crashed his scooter I patched up his cuts and gave him pudding. Pudding is the cure for all that ails us. It’s my go too medicine for post doctor’s visits, bad colds and scooter crashes. Nothing says, “There, there, you’re all better” like tapioca. My favorite brand is Kozy Shack because it really is Cozy. I taste it and I’m back in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her stir a large pot of pudding on the stove. Kozy Shack tastes like Grandma’s homemade pudding. It’s that good. But I digress.

My son crashed his scooter. He cut up his knee and was just fine until we went to change the bandage and found that the gauze had stuck fast to the scab. Horror struck, my son sat on the bathroom floor and refused all medical help. He’s ten now which means that he doesn’t have to do anything we tell him to. So we sat on the floor with him offering up salve, Q-tips and my grandmother’s advice. “Pull the band aid off fast honey. Doing it slow will just prolong the pain.” The look of horror he gave us after this bit of advice is forever emblazoned on my memory. So we sat, coaxed and cajoled for a good hour while he fought, cursed and accused us of thinking thoughts of unconscionable cruelty.

Children are god’s way of testing our sanity. I’ve failed miserably and come to the conclusion that crazy and child rearing are like oil and water. At one point as he yelled at us to not touch the band aid, I began laughing hysterically. There was no good reason why. The moment was far from funny but we’d reached that point in parenting when the good parent stands by and watches the crazy parent snap. I snapped and Dan sat there looking lost between his strong willed son and his madly euphoric wife.

I could have pinned Duncan down, removed his band aid and then washed out his deep cut. The old me would have done that. The old me was tough and efficient. The old me cornered injured horse and dressed their wounds no matter how bad it hurt them. The old me got things done. The new me is more compassionate and far less organized. The new me picked up her son, sat him in her lap and rocked him until we’d both calmed down enough to deal with our wounds. In the end we pocked, prodded and prayed the band aid off with gentle kindness and no old fashioned efficiency.

I like this new me, I like that my hardnosed, grab the bull by the horns upbringing has sloughed off enough to where I can sit, listen, crack up, recover and still stay nice. Maybe it’s the years of therapy? Maybe it’s my loving marriage? Maybe I’m just a better person then I was? Whatever it is, Duncan and his fear of pain were heard. No bandage was ripped away and no one’s boundaries where pushed. In my war with the moment I didn’t get mean or forceful, I just laughed until I found my patience, my peace and my unending love for this funny little boy who shares my life. God bless children, mad mothers, patient fathers and the tub of Kozy Shake pudding that made everything better in the end.

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