When I was a little girl, we lived in a house with a nectarine tree. My father tended to it faithfully, watering it and pruning away the dead wood and the branches that would grow too heavy with time, sealing the trimmed edges with care. Each spring, it bore a can-can line of frilly, fragrant petticoat blossoms, cast away wantonly beneath the carnal attentions of buzzing cyprian bees. Each summer, it groaned beneath the weight of fruit, ripening in heavy round golden bellies, basking in the honeyed California sunlight, serene and assured in its fecundity. For a glorious few weeks, we would eat nectarines all day long, in as many creative applications as we could think of, canning the excess for a taste of summer in the fallow months to come.
One spring, the tree dropped every one of its leaves, instead flowering in a veritable nova of blooms… somehow, it sensed the end of its long, slow life, and in one last tremendous effort, it sank all of its energies into posterity, producing