Excerpt from the book “They Call Me Orange Juice” by Audrey McDonald Atkins
Baby, eat that peach over the sink! Don’t get that juice on the floor!”
That’s what Sarah would say to me in the summertime when the peaches were ripe and warm, their skins almost bursting with sweet, sticky juice. And she’d pull a chair over in front of the kitchen sink and stand me up on it. Then I could lean over, and eat the ripe fruit while the juice ran down my face and arms.
That’s the way God intended us to eat peaches — with reckless abandon over a sink, juice running in rivulets down our chins, down our arms.
Granny had a huge farmhouse sink in her kitchen. The kind with the built-in drain board, cast iron with white enamel. There was a window over it.
The window looked out over a red brick patio with a big barbecue built on one side. Stone chimney. Rebar set in cement. Big enough for a whole goat. Gladiolus bloomed around the edges. A Lady Banks rose engulfed one corner.
Beyond the patio was a quince tree. And the clotheslines where the sheets would wave on the summer breeze. And a martin house. Beyond that was the horse pasture.
There was a shed where we raised biddies in an incubator. Where the tiller was. Where the spiders lived. By the shed was a scuppernong arbor.
All this could be seen from the window. All this could be seen by a little girl eating a peach over the kitchen sink. All this could be seen while the juice ran down my face and arms onto the white enamel.
Last Saturday, I smelled them before I even got close to the produce truck — peaches at the farmers market. Chilton County peaches. They were beautiful. Bright yellow bleeding into burgundy velvet. They were warm from the morning sun.
I bought a whole basket. You know I did.
As soon as I got home, I fished out a promising looking one — not too green, not too mushy — and stood over my kitchen sink to eat it, my stainless steel kitchen sink with a modern, gray glass backsplash. It doesn’t have a built-in drain board. I don’t have a window.
But as soon as I took the first bite of that peach, the very second the juice started tickling the underside of my arm on its way to my elbow, I was again looking at the red brick patio with the big barbecue built on one side. I could see the red and yellow gladiolus. The Lady Banks rose is blooming yellow in the corner. There’s the quince tree, and the clothesline (Don’t let the sheets touch the ground!), and the horses in the pasture. The martins are circling their house. Did we check on the biddies? I’m afraid of the spiders. Maybe I’ll climb up on top of the arbor this afternoon.
Yes, that’s the way God intended us to eat a peach.
Born and raised in Citronelle, Atkins shares stories about growing up and living in the South in her book, “They Call Me Orange Juice,” and at her blog audreyatkinswriter.com.