I went with the freezer. After all, nothing beats a warm taste of peachy summer in January. Nothing.
Last year I put away a few peaches. I took extra care to buy a large container of Fruit Fresh - that powdered preservative that's supposed to keep fruit and vegetables from browning and going bad. This year I did a little digging and found that Fresh Fruit's primary ingredient is plain old Vitamin C. Huh. I opted to save money and skip the Fruit Fresh, deciding instead to grind up a few Vitamin C tablets and let 'er rip. Worked like a charm, I think.
Anyway, as I was slicing up peach after peach, I thought suddenly of my favorite book as a girl: The Velvet Room. Oh, how I loved that book! It was published in 1965, but the story revolves around a Depression-era girl named Robin and her migrant-worker family. As Robin quietly struggles to belong, her family's financial need sends Robin and her sister to work in a peach pit. As I peeled and sliced my own juicy fruits, pieces of Robin's precious story - and my eleven-year-old life - came flitting back.
After the peaches were tucked in the deep-freeze, I found my old copy of The Velvet Room. It's creased and stained and banged up. (No telling how many times I climbed our enormous crepe myrtle and read from these pages.) I smiled when I noticed my name and our family's old phone number - 903-796-9389 - written inside the cover in my childish hand. So here, now, as a woman still sometimes struggling to belong, I sat quietly in the library with my beloved book becoming reacquainted with Robin and the velvet room and its old, found journal just as I first did some 17 years ago.
If you're a mother, grandmother, aunt, or friend to a young girl, buy her this book. Seventeen years from now she will thank you. If, like me, you enjoy quiet, beautiful, smut-free stories of girls learning to belong, buy yourself this book. You'll still be thanking yourself seventeen years later. (It's been out of print for awhile. New and used copies are available at the Freeman House Book Store by clicking here.)
So okay. Guess that wraps up my peaches and summer read recommendations for the year. Can't wait for winter. I saved the end of Robin's incredible story - and a small, separate bag of fruit - for sometime in January. Sometime then, on a raw, gray day, we'll get The Velvet Room down and make a peach crisp, and above the winter wind the only sounds we'll hear is a soft bubbling from the oven and the patient turn of pages....
And things will come full circle once again. This beautiful life with all its peaches and books has a way of doing that, doesn't it?