But for a few brief weeks in late summer, a magical thing happens in Colorado that tethers me to my Georgia-girl roots. It's called the Palisade peach.*
To say that I nearly swoon when I see the peaches in the supermarket aisles would not be an exaggeration. The cold nights of the western slopes gives the peaches a thick layer of almost-furry fuzz, and the aroma is much deeper and richer than your average California import.
As you might have guessed, I tend to overbuy these rosy-gold gems. We can't eat them fast enough, and then I have to switch on the oven and start baking things to use them up (my dessert-loving husband does not complain).
But my older daughter and I made a pact in January of this year to eat no desserts, candy, or sweets until January 1, 2018. So, as I thumbed through the delightful peach recipes in the Southern Living pages, it was fairly depressing.
Then my sad eyes landed on this recipe: Freezer Peach Pie. At first I thought it was some kind of ice cream pie, but no! "What’s better than peach pie in summer?" the introductory paragraph asks. The answer? "Peach pie in winter!" This blessed recipe writer went on to describe the genius method of freezing peach pie filling in a foil-lined tin, then storing it in a freezer bag to bake in a crust at a later date.
As I was peeling and slicing my abundance of peaches yesterday afternoon, I had some other things swirling around in my mind. Earlier this week, I heard from my literary agent, with "some good news." An acquisitions editor likes my novel enough that she'll be taking it before committee in a few days. This news was quite welcome, but my thoughts, when not focused on slicing the peaches and not my thumb, were centered on tamping down my hopes. My book has been before a couple of other committees, and in both cases wound up splitting the vote, which resulted in...well...nothing.
Hopes, when not assured, feel a lot more like anxiety. If I let myself float up to cloud 9, claiming the joy of a contract before I've signed one, I'll have a long way to fall if no contract is offered. So, as I stirred sugar and spices into the sunset-colored peach slices, I told myself that I was allowed to hover around cloud 4, but no higher.
Those peaches, though? They're guaranteed. I can peek at them, there in their freezer bag, any time I want. They're a promise, not merely a wish or a dream. I know that I'll be baking two juicy, lattice-topped pies for New Years Day brunch, and I will taste their sweetness on my tongue as I raise a glass of chilled Prosecco to the coming year.
And though my literary dreams might still be abstract, wispy, unassured, I will keep reaching for them with an open hand.
It's a tricky balance to maintain, but I want to find it: to truly claim and enjoy the assured promises in life, and to keep a softened heart that's willing to risk a bit of hope on the maybes.
*Colorado also has delicious Olathe corn (I've been known to eat some kernels raw) and Rocky Ford cantaloupes (you'll get sticky elbows from juice if you eat a slice by hand), but since there weren't any corn or cantaloupe pie recipes in Southern Living, I'm talking about Palisade peaches today.