Just Peachy July 20th, 2011
Something about this time of year makes me value simplicity. Last year around this time I dedicated a series of posts to some of the little things in life that bring me joy (namely scalloped tomatoes, nightgowns, and TV reruns). This year it’s peaches.
Every summer of my childhood sometime in late July my mother drove to a nearby small town that is very nearly paved with peach orchards. She would come home with peaches by the bushel. She spread them on the kitchen island, breakfast table, and counters to ripen. It seemed that every flat surface on the first floor of the house was covered in peaches. And when they hit that perfect moment of ripeness – usually all on the same day – the house smelled of peaches from top to bottom. It was heavenly.
Many related memories tie into these moments of peach season. I remember becoming adept with a paring knife as I peeled fresh peaches, eating them at the kitchen counter as the juice dripped down my hands because I ate each slice as I cut it, not bothering with forks or plates. I remember watching my mother stand over a pot of boiling water to blanch and peel quart after quart of peaches to be sliced and frozen for winter consumption. And I remember eating those peaches through the cold months, thawed on top of cereal or oatmeal and enjoying a taste of summer when the world outside lay dormant.
Last weekend I went to a local farmers market and loaded up on peaches. I didn’t buy them by the bushel as Mom does – she chided me affectionately for only buying two half pecks – but I bought enough to put a few pints up for the winter, to make a pie, and to eat them sliced on top of my cereal for days on end. As of this morning I have half a peach pie left, and a couple dozen peaches at the perfect stage of ripeness for peeling, slicing, and freezing. I will put them up tonight, and then likely make a repeat trip to the farmers market for a second batch to make another pie and some peach butter. My goal is to completely indulge – to make myself totally sick of peaches now so that when mid-August rolls around and the peak of the season is behind us I will feel fulfilled by the triumph of such perfect fruit, and not jilted by the brevity of the season.
I don’t know why this time of year finds me reveling in life’s simpler pleasures. I’m sure it has something to do with the proverbial bar being lowered by day after day of god-forsaken heat. Scorching temperatures aside, I sort of like this time of year. There are no holidays. No big plans to make. Little to occupy me beyond my typical work-a-day existence. It’s a comfort, really, to enjoy a stretch of days when the biggest thing going on in my life is the daily enjoyment of a perfectly ripened peach.