I don’t know whether anyone has noticed, but I have been seriously off the grid for the past week or so. Sporadic Facebook checking, maybe 15 seconds at a time. Two or three blog posts started but none finished. I’ve added only 250 words to my novel this whole week. Really, I’m not just being lazy. There is a perfectly good explanation, which I can sum up in four words:
The peaches are ripe.
We have one peach tree in our back yard. In last summer’s drought, the peaches were skimpy and ugly, plus we had to arm-wrestle the bugs for the few that ripened enough to bother with. We ended up with just about enough peach fragments to top a couple of bowls of ice cream.
This year is another story. A mild winter and timely rains have loaded our little tree with beautiful, fat peaches. Some of the branches bend almost to the ground.
As yummy and pie-heavenish as all this may sound, I’m not gonna lie… it’s a lot of work, too. As a matter of fact, I can’t keep up with even this one tree.
Every morning I look out and see anywhere from one to a dozen peaches on the ground. Most have fallen because they were moldy or damaged, and they have splatted on the grass. I collect these with a trowel. Scanning through the tree, I knock down any additional moldy peaches that I see, so they won’t fall on my head while I’m under there. More work with the trowel. A plastic grocery bag, filled with reject fruit to where I can still tie it shut, weighs 15 or 20 pounds. (I’m guessing here… excuse me for not taking our bathroom scale outside to get icky peach juice dripped on it!) A kitchen trash bag will take two or three grocery bags’ worth before it gets too heavy to pick up without tearing.
The ground cleared, I turn to the branches and start tugging on the fruit that looks ripe. If it comes off easily, it’s ready. Some peaches look all red and juicy but they’re still rock-hard, so I leave them for another day. After I’ve checked the fruit within reach, out comes the stepladder and I repeat the process higher up. Of course, as I move the ladder around I keep knocking it into the tree and occasionally downing more moldy fruit. But the good stuff is up there! Just yesterday I filled my two biggest bowls and a tray with perfectly good peaches.
Once you lug the fruit inside, then what do you do with it? Well, I’ve been peeling / slicing / freezing quite a bit, which takes forever and leaves me with veggie-peeler writer’s cramp and sticky hands. And sticky countertops, floor, clothing, appliances…
Yesterday I took the “scratch-and-dent” peaches that I had just picked, the ones with a soft spot or a bird bite out of them, and sliced the good parts into a bowl. I ended up with enough for two or three pies. Those slices are in the fridge, waiting for me to make a crust.
Meanwhile, I keep filling more grocery bags with peach skins and pits. I’m running out of grocery bags, and I can’t go to the store because there’s no room in the fridge or freezer for any more groceries. This morning the rolling trash can was almost too heavy to roll to the curb. I felt a little guilty about the sanitation crew having to hoist those heavy kitchen bags that I can barely lift, so I met the truck and gave them a bag of fresh peaches for lunch.
Lunch-bag by lunch-bag, I’m taking peaches to the neighbors and making room in the fridge for tomorrow’s picks. The bounty is overwhelming and keeps me from writing as much as I should, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. After all, I can always spend more time writing when the tree is covered with nothing but leaves.
How about you? Do you ever have to suspend a favorite activity for a season while you take care of something else?
Well, I guess I’d better go roll out some pastry. But first, it looks as if I need to grab the trowel again. . .