This one is going to require a little bit of back story. A frustrating back story…
Roughly five years ago, my wife’s grandfather passed away.
Her parents decided to plant trees in his memory in their yard and ours, and we dug holes for two peach trees in our back yard.
We chose a spot with plenty of sun, and close enough to the house to get a hose out for water.
Doing everything the right way, including root starter, pesticides and herbicides, we expected many years of juicy peaches.
*Side note, I love peach pie. No matter how full I get, there is always room in my stomach for a slice or two of pie.*
As we put bricks around the trees to avoid any mowing accidents, my mouth watered at the though of peach jam, preserves and that oh-so-wonderful pie.
Job well done we thought. Now just wait for Mother Nature to provide.
These trees only produce fruit every other year, starting the first year of planting.
They were small, but the two trees were loaded with peaches that year.
I’ll take the blame for the first batch. I stopped using the fruit-friendly pesticides in mid-summer, and bugs devoured the peaches, faster than I probably would have! Within two weeks not a single peach would be edible once (if) they reached maturity.
Two seasons later, both trees were again filled to the brim, their branches struggling to support the weight.
It was exciting. I used a stern regimen of feed and kept the bugs and fungus at bay.
This is where the frustration comes into play. As the peaches came close to being ripe, a storm knocked every last peach to the ground.
I shed a tear like the Indian in that old anti-littering commercial.
And that brings us to 2012. One of the trees is now gone, and we’re not sure of the cause. But the other tree is doing great.
Again, I’ve taken extra care to keep away bugs and fungus. Twice a week I check every branch, encouraging the little guys to grow big (Yes, I talk to the peach tree, people probably already think I’m crazy, so who cares?).
I have an extremely strong determination to get some peaches this year. Even if it’s just one, it would be a small victory.
So a storm was approaching the other day, and I had a bad feeling about the wind damaging the tree. The peaches are just big enough to be easily blown off of the branches.
I went to look for something to tie on to the branches to stabilize them from the powerful high plains wind we get here in Maryville.
As the sky darkened and the wind began to pick up, I frantically rummaged through cabinets, utility drawers and the basement for some rope.
"What are you doing?" the wife said with a tone that suggested she was talking to an insane homeless man trying to milk a parking meter.
"Looking for a length of rope," I replied, still tearing the house apart. My peaches are depending on me to save them, I can't slow down now. Plus I want some home-made pie.
"A what?!?" She was obviously confused at my terminology. "You mean 'a rope'? You have rope in the basement."
Forced to cut a piece, I braced the tree and only one peach fell off during the storm. Won that battle, though the war rages on!
Thinking about the phrase afterwards, I was confused too. I decided that the difference is that a “length of rope” is a piece long enough to serve the purpose (as opposed to the whole thing).
I began to consider some out-dated phrases I use. "Mind your own beeswax" is a favorite to tell my son when he tattles, and "not fit to hold a candle to" is a nice way of calling someone worthless.
So let me be clear as a bell before I buy the farm when I say that I hope this week's column cuts the mustard. If not, I’ll take it with a grain of salt, but I think the proof is in the putting.
And remember not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Jesse Murphy is a reporter for the Maryville Daily Forum. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org