Nana -- my aunt's mother -- to be technical about it, my fake aunt's mother: this is a section of family we annexed rather than being born into or marrying into -- cans peaches. Passing out the jars of peaches is a big deal. There are rules about peaches. You cannot open them until it snows. (That was Nanu's rule, before he died.) You must, under penalty of no more peaches, return the jar when you're done. You only get peaches if you are an adult -- otherwise you are presumed to share in your parents' peaches. This is my first year getting peaches. It will also probably be my last.
Nana had a hemorrhaging brain aneurism in '00. She managed not only to live through it but also to maintain her personality at more or less its previous state (it helps that she was a bit eccentric to begin with) and to live in her own house by herself and carry on most of her normal activities. We are all extremely lucky. But luck is not infinite, and Nana's kids and kids-in-law have talked to her about how she's a lot shakier these days, how maybe canning peaches with hot syrup and boiling water is not the best thing for her to be doing any more. She has agreed that maybe it's not. This is the beginning of a long series of things she can't do any more. We're just lucky it didn't begin years ago.
So these are probably peaches from the last batch, and when I've eaten them, there will be no more of Nana's peaches. But I can't put them off, because if I do, it will take some of their sweetness away. It will become a question of when I can bear losing Nana, and I can't, because you never can. The proper time to open the first jar of peaches is when the snow has fallen, and that is what I will do, and when I'm done, I will wash the jar and return it carefully to her next time we're in Omaha, because that is how this works.
And they will be so good.