|I had a number of those this summer. Perfect peaches, I mean.|
Funny how pain can mask good memories like that. Thank you for bringing that up.
One of my very few happy childhood memories is standing around in the garage on a very hot evening in Kansas. Salina, Kansas, up toward the top-right corner of the state. Near Topeka.
My sister and brother, a bunch of neighborhood kids, and I, were waiting semi-patiently, somewhat in awe of my father. Because at that moment he was laboriously cranking the handle on an old-fashioned, manual ice cream maker. And from experience, we knew that what emanated from that odd, wood and metal container, was going to be better than anything else, ever. We knew that it was going to make our little mouths so happy. It was fresh peach ice cream my dad was cranking.
The poor man worked and worked in the stultifying heat and, of course, sky-high humidity. It was the kind of night where a thunderstorm, even a tornado, could blow up out of nowhere, but for now, you were safe, apart from the mosquitos. Occasionally, Mom would bring him another beer. (I'm going to say Schlitz, cans, most likely. Absolutely horrible stuff. At least, that's what I had thought on the one occasion when I was encouraged to take a sip.)
In those days, in Kansas, it was occasionally possible for the stars to align in that particular way, for my dad to actually be at home, in a good mood, beer in hand, but not drunk yet. And for my mother to sidle up to him like the frisky philly she was, put her arms around his neck, kiss him, and then say, while subtly moving her hips across his, "Hey, Honey, how'd you like to whip us up a gallon of peach ice cream?"
And there we'd be, every kid in a 1-block radius, watching my Dad like so many meerkats. It took well past any reasonable amount of time for all that cranking to be completed. He kept having to add more ice and salt to the outer bucket. And cranking, cranking, Dad's muscular arms working the machine as if he were part of it. It looked really hard to do. You had to reach the point where it took five times as much strength to get around once before the ice cream was ready. For some reason, Dad always knew.
I always got the first taste. Eldest son, you know. I'll never forget it, and won't even attempt to describe it. To even try would be to insult it.
One perfect peach. Well, I guess I was pretty lucky this summer.
PS: I kind of liked the above, so I've reworked it slightly and put it on my blog.