October 22, 2017

Sunshine and Peaches Make the World Go ‘Round

Peaches on the tree at the Fitzpatricks' in Orrington.

Janine Pineo Photo | Peaches on the tree at the Fitzpatricks’ in Orrington.

• By Janine Pineo •

Some questions are like a siren’s song to me.

Would you like more hot fudge sauce? Would you like to spend the day at the beach? Would you like me to weed the garden for you?

Which means I had a violently happy reaction to the following query from a good friend a few days ago.

Would you like some peaches?

After I took a moment, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Because if there is anything I have learned, nothing is better than fruits and vegetables you pick yourself.

Peaches start to fill the bottom of the peck basket.

Janine Pineo Photo | Peaches start to fill the bottom of the peck basket.

Armed with a couple of peck baskets, I met my friend, David, and followed him to his parents’ home in Orrington, locale of the amazing peach tree.

The tree, I was told, was crazy. Planted just a few years ago, the thing had grown like a weed. It started to produce peaches in its second year, and this year the tree had a peach explosion. Despite the best efforts of David’s dad, Terry Fitzpatrick, who had whittled down the number of little peaches to keep the tree upright, the weight of the remaining peaches still managed to bring down one branch.

This I had to see.

We arrived in late afternoon, the sun warm. After a quick introduction to Dad, we stepped behind the house to witness the wonder of the peach tree.

There, basking in the sunshine, dotted with little red and gold orbs of fuzzy beauty, stood a lush tree, many of its branches braced with a piece of wood to keep them from breaking under the weight of the fruit.

As Terry told the tale of the tree – how his kids bought it for him, how he had to learn what to do for pruning, how he had to pick off so much of the baby fruit to make sure the remaining fruit could grow to a better size – David scaled the ladder and started handing me down fresh peaches.

I think he might have picked three or four before we started eating them as he picked.

Still warm from the sun, the baseball-sized fruit was firm and juicy. The flavor was all you ever wanted a peach to taste like but probably never have sampled because the store-bought ones never quite measure up. We flung the pits into the bushes and kept picking and sampling until two baskets were mostly full.

I got to meet David’s mom, Gerry, and the four of us talked for a while, shaking our heads over the crazy tree with its impressive yield. We ran the gamut of peach talk, from rust to blistered leaves to the broken branch that snapped under the weight of the fruit. We talked of birds and flowers, raccoons and Japanese beetles, all the while surrounded by the faint scent of peach in the warm air.

I could have hugged David’s parents, so happy was I. In the end, I got an invitation to drop on in “anytime” to get more, although Gerry admonished Terry that I might want to call to make sure there were still peaches on the tree before making that long drive.

I am not sure what was sweeter, the peaches or the Fitzpatricks.

Yes, I am. Definitely Gerry and Terry.

~~~

What to make with all those peaches? How about freezer jam? Click here for a recipe.