There is a place on Highway 70 in Yuba County, California, called White Peach which one can only see during the months of August and September. Every year on a morning in early August the plywood sign appears, the words “White Peach” spray painted in green to entice passersby to stop and visit. It is clearly a roadside attraction.
One year you decide that you’ll stop. Is it a village, a fruit stand, a space ship perhaps? Given the location of the sign beside a peach orchard (not to mention that it says “White Peach”), you assume peaches might be sold there. But there is no fruit stand visible, so you can’t be certain. Still, you have been intrigued by it for a long time and you want to take a picture of the sign for your daily photo, so you turn into the orchard. Immediately you are surprised to find a lovely little house, surrounded by vines and flowers. With a some relief you think, “Oh, they must sell peaches here.” But no, there is no fruit stand to be seen. Not even a little table with a box or two of peaches. So you continue along the rutted dirt road, deep into the orchard.
The car bumps along for a ways, when the road suddenly takes a sharp turn to the left. There you spy a porta-potty, an old cafe chair and a few piled up fruit crates. Ah! Peaches must be for sale here. But again there is no sign of anything at all for sale. You drive on and encounter some trucks loaded with fruit boxes and a barn. In the distance you can see a little white house with someone sitting in the front yard, next to a big orange water jug. Still no peach stand and the person in the yard gets up and walks away. So, feeling like an intruder, you back up and turn around, feeling like you’ve failed. You really wanted more than a photo from this venture. By now you want peaches! As you drive back along that rutted road, you spy another sign:
Now it’s definite. There are clearly peaches sold here. You can just call the farmers on your phone. Except what are those two last numbers spray painted on that plywood sign? You can’t tell, so once again you turn around. You drive into the driveway with a bit more confidence this time, and this time the man in the yard stands up and waves. So you park and get out of your car, and walk toward him. He is somewhere between sixty and eighty years old, with beautiful crinkly brown skin and is wearing a dirty turban of an unrecognizable color. He calls out loudly,”Peaches? Bag? You? Peaches?!” In case you’ve missed it, he demonstrates with his hands a shopping bag. Relieved, you say, “Peaches! Yes! Peaches! How much?” “Fifteen dollars,” he shouts. Once you are close enough to converse, you drop your volume. You are, after all an ELD teacher and you know that increasing the volume of the conversation doesn’t increase its comprehensibility. He doesn’t know that, apparently, and continues to shout at you. “Peaches! Bag!” Thinking that fifteen dollars sounds like either a lot of peaches or a lot of money for a few, you say “Five dollars worth” and hand him a five dollar bill so there is no mistake. He looks at it, and says “You car. Peaches. Bag” and he takes off walking toward the orchard.
You get in your car and follow him slowly along the rutted road through the orchard. When you get to the cafe chair he signals you to stop your car. You do, and you get out. He comes up and pats you on the shoulder and says, “Bag?” Frantically you rummage around in the backseat, looking for a bag. He has your money, and you apparently must supply the container. Fortunately your giant size Chico Bag is there, in a box, so you grab it and open it up. He looks at the size of it and nods. Clearly it’s too big for five dollars worth of peaches, but you figure he can put the right amount in, as it’s all you have. He signals you to follow him, and he takes off into the orchard, trudging along between the rows of trees. For a minute you think about the fact that there is no one around for who knows how far, as you head deeper and deeper into this orchard with this unknown man. Finally, when you can barely see your car any more, he stops and points to a tree. He grabs your bag and starts putting peaches in it. One after another peach is tossed in there until it is completely full of beautiful (unripe) white peaches.
As you walk back to your car, he tries to ask where you live, “Marysville? You?” he shouts. He speaks a few words in Spanish so you think maybe you’ve found a common language, and you reply in kind. But no, those were his only words in Spanish, it seems. So you reply, “I live in Chico. I’m a teacher in Marysville. I’m a teacher.” He smiles broadly and nods, “Teacher? Teacher.” He pats your back vigorously and says, “Thank you! Teacher, thank you! Teacher. Thank you!” In a moment of clarity, you realize that today has been about way more than peaches. The peaches are the bonus part of today’s adventure. You’ve been to White Peach. And it was a good trip.