Pickles and Peaches

My jars of sweet pickles spice up the house with the pungency of vinegar, like a sugary clove and vinegar potpourri. The syrup heats up and the pickles boil. Steam rolls up from the open kettle. Then I dip the slices of cucumber hot into the scalded jars and screw on the lids before I lower them into the water bath boiler. When the timer sounds in fifteen minutes, I lift out the quart jars. They dry sparkling clean glass over green. Summer in a jar waiting to spice up winter’s table.

We missed the annual Porter Peach Festival by a week. Yet, when we arrived, the peach barn was crowded anyway, even then, with peach lovers. The harvest was in full swing and I thought how cheerful the crowd was. I love to mingle and watch these people. They are people of character and early risers. They drove miles down dusty dirt roads to get the finest fresh picked peaches from the orchards. They are happy people, go-getters, and enjoy working with their hands. You know their homes are happy places!

In the orchard sale barn, they lift half bushel baskets of sunshine unto wagons and simply glow with happiness as they tow their precious cargo to the checkout. They are visionaries who dream of peach cobblers, and peach pie a la mode, and of peach jam spooned between the halves of hot flaky biscuits.

From between the rows of peach trees, families wearing flushed faces blushing with heat and joy come carrying baskets they have picked themselves. I could see they had fun and wished I had opted to pick my own.

As we drove back into town I noticed that some streets had been named after peach varieties. Picture, if you can, a peach with with each of these luscious, interesting names: Early Star, Autumnglo, Ruston Red, John Boy, Glohaven, Loring, Creasthaven, Encore, Sweet Country, Sunhigh, ConTender, Victoria, Coral Star , Reliance, Bounty, Rich May, and Sweet Dream.

How about Blazing Star, Canadian Harmony, Desiree, Gloria, Ernie’s Choice, Ouachita Gold, and Flamin” Fury?

I felt rich driving away home from the orchard. There is something so wonderful about such bounty.

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