Wednesday, July 13, 2011
A Peach Of A Day
When peaches are in season in the hill country, roughly mid-May through the end of July, there is almost nothing with respect to a peach you cannot purchase. In addition to the fresh fruit itself, you can buy canned peaches, dried peaches, peach ice cream, peach pie, peach cobbler, peach jam, peach jelly, peach bread, peach cookies, peach candy, peach muffins, peach salsa, peach syrup, peach butter, peach barbeque sauce, peach wine, and peach scented candles. If you love peaches and peach products, U.S. Highway 290 is a dream come true.
When making my historical treks through the hill country, I most often do it alone. It’s not that I prefer it that way, because I don’t. It’s just that most people don’t look upon spending a day in the sweltering Texas sun trying to locate obscure historical sites and overgrown graveyards to be that much fun. So, in an attempt to lure them into accompanying me, I offer an incentive. The incentive is in the form of something they like, but, which always comes at the very end of the trip, after my historical curiosities have been satisfied. When my boys were very young, I used the incentive of a trip to Florida to justify visiting every Civil War battlefield on the way there. Unfortunately for me, even a couple of young boys could figure out that a straight route from Ohio to Florida shouldn't wind its way through Pea Ridge, Arkansas. They also observed that all the battlefields looked about the same. After that, I was pretty much on my own while making historical trips, and it’s been that way ever since.
My wife loves fresh fruit, so, during peach season, it’s relatively easy to “encourage” her to accompany me out into the hot hill country, as long as we eventually end up in one of the peach orchards near Fredericksburg. But, before we leave, I always get the same “advice.” She normally says something like, “make sure you are prepared and know all the places you want to visit so we don’t ever have to go back.” For some reason, in her mind, a fresh peach is far more important than locating the exact location of a gunfight which took place 136 years ago. Go figure. At any rate, the other day we hopped in the truck and headed out.
Having filled my historical quota for the day, it was now time for me to deliver on the incentive which I had promised -- peaches. Ironically, as we were driving on the road toward Fredericksburg, Billy Currington came on the radio singing, “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.” Billy was born and raised in Georgia, a state which certainly knows a thing or two about growing peaches.
After arriving in the Fredericksburg area, we quickly located a PYO peach orchard (PYO is a short hand code for pick-your-own). But, picking peaches is a lot more complicated than simply showing up and pulling fruit off the trees. Things these days always seem to be more complicated than they should be.
First, the size of the box must be decided upon. For some reason, some peach filled boxes of a certain size are priced by the pound while other sized boxes are a flat price. Next, you have to decide what kind of peach you actually want to pick. There are many different varieties. On the day we visited, we had a choice of either picking “Red Globe” or “Majestic.” Sitting on a table in front of us was a bowl of both types of peaches, and they both looked and tasted exactly the same. Not being a connoisseur of fine peaches, I naturally asked what the difference was between the two varieties. “Well,” the man said slowly, “they both taste about the same.” Not satisfied with the explanation, I asked him why he grew different varieties if they both looked and tasted the same. “Well,” he drawled, “the trees are supposed to bear fruit at different times but they don’t.”
Despite the lengthy preparation necessary to teach us the proper peach picking etiquette, and the oppressive heat, we had a nice time. Walking up and down the many rows of trees in the orchard, it didn’t take us very long to pick a ¼ bushel box of delicious peaches. After a little more chitchat with the "professor," we paid for the peaches and left. My wife fell asleep soon after we got on the road heading home, and as I drove, I had time to reflect that despite our different interests, it had turned out to be one mighty fine day. It was, in fact, a peach of a day.