Sunday, August 14, 2005
My kitchen counters are now loaded with three boxes of peaches and one box of nectarines. The last two batches of jam vaporized it seemed, so now I'm making more. I picked up a bunch of "windfall" ones which I chose carefully, since I will be canning them, and only paid 15 cents a pound. A really large ripe peach seems about as voluptuous as Marilyn Monroe, so I'm a bit disappointed in these distinctly un-sensual names they give them: Veteran, Suncrest, Red Haven, Canadian Harmony. It was inordinately hot here today, in the mid-90s, and the drops of sweat quickly mixed with the juice dripped on our hands sampling different varieties and the dust from the orchard to coat us in a substantial layer of brown, such that by the time we got to the car our blond fair-skinned five-year-old picking mate had nearly matched my son's dark Bengali tint. It was hard to tell where the tan stopped and the dirt started on the daughter of the orchard owners, following us barefooted through the trees and wearing a set of shiny silver teeth caps across all her uppers, nearly the only thing visible that was not brown on her body.
Whenever I taste a good peach, it reminds me of the tree outside the dining room window at my Aunt Mary's house in Fishkill, New York. That tree was a source of huge pride for my Aunt and Uncle, and was jealously guarded from marauding squirrels with a shotgun. Its been so many years - maybe twenty - since I've eaten one that I can no longer tell you if those peaches really tasted better than anything I've eaten since, but for the sake of my late Aunt's memory, I'll say they were. I do remember the pies that she made, peach and apple. Oh my god nothing in a crust will ever taste that good again. The peach tree also had another important purpose, it was an anchor for one end of the clothes line. You didn't use a dryer during the summer in upstate New York, and having run a load of clothes through today, in this clingy heat, I can see their point.
Tomorrow is forecasted to be a high of 86F, not much higher than the temperature right now. Maybe if I get an early start, I can get the jam done while the kitchen is a bit cooler.