In Season

Val and I went to the Center City farmers' market this morning, where I was somewhat surprised to find a new crop of apples already out on several vendors' tables. Though I'm sure I should've learned otherwise by now, I was fairly well convinced that any apples one might see during the summer were sure to have come from cold storage, while the new ones wouldn't pop up until next month at least.

But there they were: beautifully variegated new apples, their skins taut and matte, their flesh firm under a thumb press, their scent vague but sweet. I picked up a few, considered buying them, thought about how nice it would be to once again be able to toss a piece of fruit in my purse without having to worry about the mangled pulp it would be when I pulled it out again. (One does not, if one is smart, heave a ripe piece of stone fruit into a bag with any other contents.)

There were the peaches, though.

Across from the stand with the loveliest new apples was a table with fat yellow cling peaches, which, as a sign above them noted, were "Almost like mango!" And it's true: they were dense and juicy and a crazy shade of yellow-orange not often seen in the peach world. They had the feel and taste of summer on the tongue. They carried the suggestion that although San Francisco may be dipped in fog, although our moments of daylight may be slowly ticking away, although there's been a slight downward pull to things since I got back from vacation--that despite all of these things, summer is still very much with us, fall still somewhere uncertainly down the line.

The apples were beautiful, and tempting in their new ripeness. But I know they'll be around for months to come, while the peaches, one of these Sundays, will quietly fail to appear, and all of the berries will be gone, all of the plums done for the year.

While there's still time, then, I opt to fill my bag with those hefty yellow globes, to gingerly carry them home so they won't bruise, to lean over the sink as I bite into one, feel the juice run down my hand and splash onto the white porcelain below. While there's still time, then, I hold what will soon--all too soon--be little more than a memory.

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