The Peach Tree
She felt there was nothing better than ripe, succulent peaches in the summertime.
She talked for years and years how much she loved fresh peaches. She lamented how the peaches from the grocery weren’t nearly as good as the fresh peaches from the field she remembered as a child. She spoke enchantedly of the aroma and sweetness of the succulently dripping fruits brought to her from her grandfather’s field of peach trees in the summer.
Ezra told her for years and years she should buy a peach tree.
Ezra told her for years and years to buy a peach tree, but she wouldn’t. So, finally, one year for her birthday, he bought her a peach tree.
She thanked him but asked, “Who’s going to plant it?”
Ezra said, “You can. You are able.”
In fact, he begged her, “Please, be able.”
She asked, “You don’t want to plant it? Knowing how much I love peaches?”
“No,” he said. “I’d much prefer it if you wished to plant it.”
“But, just think,” she said. “You have purchased it for me, and that was very kind. Now, if you plant it for me, it will be doubly kind. So, whenever I pick the fruits from your tree, I will think of you in double kindness not only for giving it to me, but also for planting it.”
Ezra planted the peach tree in her back yard, just steps away from her back door.
When Ezra finished, he told her, “Do not forget to care for it, as it is still young. Be sure to water it and give it the nourishment it needs.”
“You do not wish to water and nourish it too?” she asked. “That will be a triple kindness, dear boy.”
“No,” Ezra said. “For those are such small demands for the reward of the fruits you so dearly wish for that I cannot do it.”
“If they are such small things, then why not do them for me out of kindness? If they are such small things, then it is next to nothing. Surely you are kind enough to do more for me than nothing.”
“I’m afraid I must leave you to do more than nothing for yourself,” Ezra said.
The years passed. The tree grew, but slowly, as she neglected its care. Finally, after many seasons of struggle, it bore fruit. It bore succulent, juicy, ripe fruit. It was everything she should have wanted.
In the years of the peach tree’s struggle, Ezra watched it in passing. When he could see it was finally bearing fruit, he returned to ask her how it tasted.
She said she didn’t know.
“Why not?” Ezra asked.
“I’ve been waiting all this time for you to come and check its ripeness. And, if it is time, to pick them.”
“Pick them for you?”
“Yes,” she said. “It would be such a kindness, as you know how much I adore fresh peaches.”
“But the fruit is right there – right there in your backyard. No more than ten steps away. And, if not today, maybe last week or next week it was or will be ripe and fresh and juicy and succulent, just as you’ve wished for all these years.”
“Yes,” she said. “I know that now, in this moment, now that you are making the point of the peaches being right there.”
“So, you forget about the fruit?”
“No. I never forget about my longing for the fruit.”
“Then what is it?”
“I forget about the tree. I forget about the tree that is just steps away from my door.”
“Then I’m sorry. I cannot help you,” Ezra said.
“But it’s only a few steps outside. Can’t you check it, now that you’re here? Won’t you check the fruit now, while it is still fresh in my mind that the fruit is out there? Won’t you do it now before I forget by this afternoon?”
“No,” Ezra said. “I cannot.”
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because I know the reason for your forgetfulness is not a feebleness of your mind. It is only that you do not understand the need to remember.”
The next morning, her peach tree had been felled. It lay on the ground, toppled by the deep, heavy cuts from an axe.
Years passed before she realized her peach tree was gone, while her longing for fresh peaches never waned.