Two days later, I set out on a warm evening to hand-water the garden. I rounded the corner and halted, aghast. A large branch, laden with peaches, dangled almost to the ground. The leaves were limp. I reached up and the whole branch came away easily in my hands. I lifted and dragged it to the compost pile and quickly harvested all the ripe and partially ripe fruit.
I left the hard green peaches on the severed branch, figuring they were beyond help.
Returning to the scene of the disaster, I saw the break and noticed that one of the tethers supporting the tree and anchoring it to the wall had snapped.
Looking to my right, I saw an unmolested branch bearing rosy fruit hanging down.
My deduction? The branch at the far right can't support an large (ish) animal, while the doomed branch could. Until it couldn't. A squirrel? A racoon, perhaps? My bet is on the squirrel; I think racoons can pick and pluck.
Yesterday's photo shows what I did with the slightly more than a dozen not-quite-ripe peaches. It works! I was able to store half the peaches today, and the rest should be ready in a day or two.
As for the tree, I think it'll live -- the leaves are glossy and firm with about half a dozen delectable glowing globes out of reach.