I’ve had days that could be described as “the pits.” You know, times when nothing seems to go right and you can’t wait for bed time. But this time of the year I deal with “the pits” in a completely different way. I know it’s a seasonal feeling, but it’s mid-summer and along with being warm, I’ve found a way to get “fuzzy.”
No, I don’t like hot weather, but if you live below the Mason Dixon line this is the time of year when old established orchards harvest an abundance of sweet ripe peaches. And if you don’t go out and get some you are missing one of life’s little pleasures that you might very well regret some cold January day.
There are a variety of peaches to choose from this time of year, but I’m not finicky. As long as they are freestone yellow peaches, soft and ripe I have reached Nirvana.
The other day my bride and I made the drive to one of Kentucky’s better known peach orchards, Bray’s in Bedford, a Trimble County landmark. Due to the extremely favorable peach weather in our area this year they started harvesting these succulent fruits a month earlier than usual.
I simply can’t help myself when I walk into an open air orchard market and smell those delicious peaches on the display shelves. Not only did we buy a basket full, but I finished my first one before I even started the engine for the drive home.
Eating ripe peaches requires no special skill. Just bite in and by the time you are done you are holding only a wet seed in your gooey hands as you reach for another one. Back home a little effort to scald the skins off (much like skinning a tomato) and you can make the best summer ice cream topper known anywhere in the south.
A couple of years ago I made a video about how to freeze fresh peaches. You can watch it here if you like. As simple as it is to prepare peaches for the freezer it’s knowing that the process will preserve that delicious taste for months to come that makes it well worth the minimal effort to bag up enough sliced peaches to treat yourself all winter long.
Marcus Carey’s How to Freeze Peaches
I think my earliest experience with a peach was at about the age of 5. As the story goes, sometime long before I was born my grandfather had purchased a bag of peaches on a trip to Florida while passing through Georgia and in that bag was the biggest peach he’d ever seen. After he ate the peach he saved the seed which he nurtured in water until it sprouted and then planted it in his backyard. By the time I was old enough to see the tree that grew from that seed it was bent and angled, growing right outside my grandmother’s back door
As a youngster, after my grandfather’s early passing, many of the stories from his life seemed to take on a special meaning with other members of the family. And so it was with the peach tree in Grandma’s back yard; It had become a family legend and eating the peaches gave us a chance to remember him.
I recall how in summer Grandma would make certain that we didn’t climb the fragile branches or pick the fruit too early, but rather made us wait until the monster peaches were “just right” and then after a careful harvest we feasted with her as she told the story of the huge peach, the trip to Florida, bragged about my Grandfather and as I recall we laughed a lot as we let the juice run down our chins.
The old folks are gone now, and so is that tree, but there is always a new crop of peaches to enjoy every year about this time.
So in this season while so many other things might be broken or frustrating or merely mundane, let me alert you to the arrival of ripe peaches.
Find your way to an orchard nearby, locate a basket of peaches, and treat yourself to one of life’s little delights before the season passes and the chance to grab the moment passes with it. There will be plenty of time to sit and reminisce about the “old folks” and days gone by, to giggle over family stories and share a moment or two remembering when life seemed to be simpler, but none of them will be any better than the ones told over a cup of ice cream with fresh peaches on top.
Forget for a moment the rancor of politics, worries about the economy and the realization that we are growing older. Seize the day, grab the moment and enjoy that wonderful, fragrant, pink and yellow fruit while the season is at hand.
Wave to complete strangers along the road from the orchard home with your slightly sticky hand. Make your own connection with the past, enjoy the present and preserve some goodness for the future. Throw the “pits” out the window and let fresh peaches add a little bit of “fuzzy” to the warmth of your mid-summer.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.