You know they're ready when they come right off in your hand. You just reach up and put your palm to the fruit. (1)Being gently, you turn the peach to the left. If the stem doesn't snap, you leave it. You can come back tomorrow, or the next day, and check all of the unripe fruit again.
(2)When I was ten years, I picked my first peaches with my family. My grandfather orchard was only fifteen miles outside our hometown in Athens Georgia. When the season came, (3)my mother father and me all drove in our little car to his (4)orchard and we helped him and his team of pickers-local kids, lifelong farmhands, old friends from town-bring in the fruit.
Even though I was young, I can recall all the details of our peach-picking days, down to my father's expression (5)when he realized I'd eaten six peaches in one morning and given myself a horrible stomachache. (6)My mother was once stung by a bee on her collarbone; she let me feel the bump from the sting with my fingertip even though I could see it hurt her when it was touched.
Most significant, though, were the (7)undescribable sights, smells, and sounds of the orchard itself. I have (8)been alive a long time since those trips with my parents, but those are my fondest summer memories-I remember the peaches shining in the (9)sunlight, and their sweet scent both wafting down from the trees and rising up from the overripe fruit littered on the ground. If I remember nothing else until my death-which I know may not be far away -(10)may I remember that: the smell of peaches, my mother, my father, and me.