Descent into the Pit of Peach

OK, you’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about.

We have fruit trees…a blessing! It brings me so much joy to have fruit grown right here in our yard, to watch it ripen in the sun, to eat it right off the tree unbelievably sweet, warm and juicy. So don’t get me wrong…I love our trees! I love eating the apricots, peaches and plums fresh, and I love drying the fruit for later, and I love dishing out peaches from canning jars onto the kids’ plates in February. Yup, it’s a blessing!

However.

Anyone who has fruit trees can tell you…it’s also a lot of work! The fruit all gets ripe at about the same time, and the best, ripest peaches come plummeting to the ground if so much as a hummingbird brushes by them. Where they splatter into a giant Peach-Bomb, splashing juice all over and attracting hornets by the droves. To avoid this, one must go out and pick *all* of the peaches off the tree, teetering on a tall ladder for some and reaching with a fruit picker for the uppermost peaches. Inevitably, one or two will fall from the top of the tree and splatter against your forehead. You go out, squinting against the sun, and pick. And pick. And pick. Bugs fall on you (and I am NOT a fan of bugs…that may be the year’s greatest understatement!). The fuzzy stuff on the peaches comes off, falls all over you, and then itches like fiberglass until you shower off…which you will want to do immediately anyway, because you WILL be sticky. Very. Sticky.


Once the peaches are inside, you will have to do something with them. Fruit flies are laying in wait, looking for the perfect moment to amass their minions and descend on the fruit…and from there, they will move on to all the other fruit in the house. Plus your potted plants.

You will turn your home over to canning for days on end, your kitchen will become a processing plant. There will be nothing but canning jars in your dishwasher, on your counter, on the kitchen table. There will be a huge canner full of water boiling on your stove, a huge pot of hot apple juice next to it, and another pot of plain water boiling beside it. There will be lids warming in water on the last burner. There will be bowls, tubs, and containers all over the table full of peaches, there will be trash bags of peach skin and pits, there will be quartered and halved peaches floating in lemon water to prevent browning.

There will be a sticky film. Over. Everything.

The temperature in your kitchen will hover somewhere between unacceptable and outrageous, and the humidity will be equal to that found around the earth’s equator.

You will be hot, sticky, and probably burned. You will most likely cut your thumb. Very little other than canning peaches will be done until every last bit of fruit is put away. Canned peach halves in juice, peach quarters, peach preserves, peach jam. Rows of shiny, happily-yellow peaches like little snapshots of summer sun will line your shelves and pantry, and when those are full, many of your friends’ and family’s pantries as well.

You will be completely, thoroughly, and totally exhausted. You will continue to find sticky spots in your kitchen for the next two weeks.

Am I crazy to be looking forward to this? Probably so. For the next while, my life will be taken over by peaches (followed by tomatoes and salsa…if those darn vines ever get busy and ripen!). It brings me a crazy kind of joy, though, to know that I will be putting food away for my family, like the many women of generations past. I don’t have to do it…in all truth I could probably go buy a can of peaches from the store for about as much as it costs to do it myself. BUT….there is such a joy in knowing that these are our peaches, that I can make them last all winter long, that I am providing this food for my family by my own sweat, blood and tears (OK, well maybe that was an exaggeration. Sweat, anyway).

Ah, the joys of Summer! Let the Pits begin.

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