Monday, May 5, 2008

Pretty Flowers

I've seen peach blossoms from the road, I suppose. They don't look much different
from apple blossoms or cherry blossoms. Unless they are your peach blossoms, in which case their tender petals swell before your eyes with promise and mystery and parental anxiety. What if hordes of ravening deer come and nibble you? What if a prophylactic rain of volcanic ash shrouds your charms and prevents pollination from occurring?

What if there's a frost?

This question, of course, is not at all frivolous to the residents of the Memphis area. Last year, the dread Easter frost of '07 wiped out any and all fruit in the mid-South except for the strawberries, which I'm guessing were protected by row covers. For 2 or 3 nights in mid-April, the temperature fell into the 20s and in some places the teens. Because we'd had an unusually warm late winter and early spring, all the fruit trees and shrubs were already blooming or setting fruit. The frost killed all the apples, blueberries, plums and yes, most cruel, all the peaches.

We managed to find some down in Alabama on a road trip in early July, but day-to-day existence here in Memphis was grim last summer. No peaches and relentless heat. It was awful.

So you can imagine my emotional state when I acquired the rights to all the fruit from 3 peach trees at Jones Orchard up in Millington, TN. (I bid on this prize at the silent auction fundraiser for the Memphis Farmers' Market, and I didn't expect to win. I won.) Total, body-tingling excitement (I'll have peaches! So many peaches!). Abject, mind-numbing fear (What if we're jinxed?). Complete, overwhelming mania slipping swiftly into dejection (Pies! Ice cream! Chutney! Salsa! Cobbler! Jam! Canned peaches! More jam! More ice cream! Yogurt! Facial treatments! Peach kernel scrubs! Rotten peaches piling up in our kitchen and attracting fruit flies!).

But as I settled down the opportunity before me crystallized. I get to document a year in the life of a few peach trees, or several hundred peaches, from flower to pie plate. Along the way, I hope to try as many ways to enjoy a peach as I can find, with your help. I'm hoping you might find it in your hearts to share some of your favorite things to do with a peach. (Keep it clean, though--I've got a kid!)

This is my first post so I'm suffering from a bad case of logorrhea. I'll save it up for now. Next time, our first visit to the orchard.

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