On the day after Memorial Day it seems that summer white is bustin’ out all over. My version of a summer work wardrobe mirrors the other three seasons rather closely. Granted, the leg wear gets a tad shorter but the conventional button-down shirts remain the same. It just so happens today’s shirt is indeed white but not alarmingly so. It’s more of a weary white, rolled-up sleeves on a traditional collared shirt that I snagged from Young Boston Scholar’s closet. Festooned with the day’s mise en place, you would say the look is neither crisp nor vacation ready.
Following a particularly sweltering tour of duty in the bakery, I am gathering a few gazpacho fixing incidentals from the Trader Joes. My focus is on the fresh basil and the not-quite-summer tomatoes. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the Lady-in-Linen squeezing and juggling cantalopes and honeydews. She is so engrossed with selecting the perfect melon, she pays no attention to the pyramid of organic Gala apples to her left. In a flash, pink and gold striped fruit is rolling helter skelter, circling my clogs. Mayday, I’m goin’ down and I grab on to a roll of green produce bags for dear life, trying to steady myself. Lady-in-Linen commandeers a strapping young sales fellow, demanding to know which melon is fruit salad worthy. Attired in a turquoise hibiscus emblazoned t-shirt, he can’t help but notice my flailing arms as I scramble for balance, the apples rolling underfoot. I scoop up a handful of the runaway bumper crop defending myself with a plaintive “It wasn’t me!” Another sales associate is summoned to right the literally upset apple cart. I hear myself saying, “Honestly, I don’t even eat apples in May…” What am I talking about?! As I set down the wayward fruit in an empty corrugated box, a young girl engrossed in a text message approaches the dwindling organic monument. She plucks one from the middle and I instinctively duck as the remaining Galas bounce from counter to concrete industrial floor. Clearly, I am in the wrong aisle at the wrong time. Sidestepping, I round the corner allowing the apples to fall where they may. There are easily dozens of shoppers in this store. Why is the falling fruit always my problem?
Not so casually hiding behind the plums and the nectarines, it’s impossible to ignore the Great Melon Debate. Finally resolved (honeydew wins), Lady-in-Linen clutches the winning melon in her perfectly manicured coral-toned nails. She pauses at the end caps (grocery speak for attention-grabbing items at the end of aisles) which have forsaken the barbeque holiday of yesterday and are now boasting a tropical theme; mangoes and 19 cent bananas. Turquoise t-shirt is hovering, eyebrow raised, waiting to see what trouble I might cause next. I fixate instead on a small gathering of white peaches and white nectarines, huddled together, unassuming yet fragrant. No doubt front and center over the holiday weekend, today they are yesterday’s fruit. Suddenly Mr. T-shirt is my new best friend. He nods towards the ripe fruit, “They’re fabulous.” We exchange peach pleasantries as I try unsuccessfully to untangle and find the opening of the damn plastic bag. It’s hopeless, the bag will not cooperate and I clumsily gather six of one (the nectarines) and half a dozen of the other (the peaches), tucking them into my hand cart. I know exactly what I’m going to make with my early summer windfall and just the crust to go with it. Cornmeal, brown sugar and orange zest with a splash of buttermilk can go from shortcake biscuit to pie crust with a little tweaking. Circumnavigating my way back to the citrus display, with the utmost care I select a naval orange and then pause momentarily by the dairy for the smallest container of buttermilk. Mr. T-shirt has disappeared behind the swinging doors adjacent to the coffee counter, Lady-in-Linen has just cleared the check out line. The song playing over the sound system is unmistakable; it’s the 1970s folk rockers America and in my present state of dysfunction I can swear they are singing, “This is for all the lonely peaches, thinking that life has passed them by…”
The friendly cashier wants to know if I found everything I needed. “Everything, and then some” I reply. Making my way towards the parking lot, the fellow gathering shopping carts offers a friendly, “How’s it goin?”