I worship at the altar of the peach.
Don't get me wrong, I'll flirt with other fruit throughout the year. The crisp juice explosion of a well timed apple is not to be sneezed at, the sticky pleasures of a watermelon afternoon are undeniable, grapefruit's fragrant, bitter pucker is a true joy in the grey days of February. Pears, cherries, bananas, lemons, I love them all dearly buy my true heart lies with peaches. If I had a personal deity she would probably be fuzzy-skinned and sweet scented.
Every year as summer rolls around a small bubble of anticipatory pleasure builds in my belly, butterflies before a big day. Every year the first peach of the season is carefully chosen. The timing is important, the weather must be warm, the summer must be truly upon us. There can be no hopeful relenting to the siren calls of Tesco peaches, flown halfway across the world in the early days of spring. That way lies disappointment. The first peach of the season must be yielding and so juicy that you need to eat it over the sink or lick your fingers clean halfway through. There should be paper towels involved.
I'm sure that I can trace my peach devotion to some deep-seated childhood memories. My mum used to buy trays of peaches in bulk and as the hottest days of summer approached they would appear, little armies of fuzzy, speckled perfection waiting to be devoured. The autonomy and freedom of being able to eat them whenever I wanted and the subtle art to learning the signs of when they would be just right. The soft give under gentle pressure, the honeyed fructose puff of cool air as the fridge opened. These things leave a deep impression on a kid.
But it's not just about nostalgia. The first peach is a moment in time, pure unadulterated pleasure in sensation, fleeing and glistening in memory. The beautiful reminder that the world keeps spinning, shit can (and seems to insist on) falling apart and constantly changing but still summer comes around. Peaches return. Pleasure and appreciation are possible even in the midst of the what seems so bleak. This is a helpful, fruit-based reminder every year.