Peach Blessings

PEACH BLESSINGS

It’s been a week now since I first encountered peach blessings.

We received notice from our church office that a vineyard on nearby Orchard Mesa was offering free peaches to anyone who wanted to go out and pick them. Well, when you get to be a certain age (read, “income level”), “free” becomes your favorite word, even though you realize through much “hard knocks” schooling that nothing is truly free. So the Leprechaun and I set out with boxes and bags galore to get some of these “free” peaches. We thought, we’ll pick some for our neighbors as well.

Background story: we’ve felt especially close to our neighbors because of the recent death of one of them, a gentleman with whom we had been enjoying a growing acquaintanceship. We were all in shock, but watching his wife and daughters endure their pain was heart-bruising. So we thought to share our pickings with these neighbors who had circled the wagons around this particular family.

It was a sunny, clear day when we drove to Orchard Mesa searching for the vineyard. We hadn’t even seen the surrounding landscape, i.e., the Grand Mesa, Colorado National Monument and the Bookcliffs, for a couple of months due to smoke from forest fires plaguing Colorado, Utah, and even California, but last Saturday was beautiful. We picked for a couple of hours and harvested at least 100 pounds of tree-ripened Redglobes. When you see all that beautiful fruit hanging there, it’s like your lizard brain takes over and you just keep picking until you realize that you have to carry all of that fruit at some point. When that realization dawns, it occurs to you that you don’t have a freezer, aren’t inclined to can or otherwise preserve ANYTHING, and you just hope that your neighbors don’t mind the bruises because the fruit is at the peak of ripeness.

We visited with the couple who donated the fruit. Their property is planted in vineyards, but they don’t make wine; rather, they sell their grapes to local wineries. They lease a small tract to a man who grows peaches, but the weather was unfavorable in the spring, so the peaches were small-ish and, therefore, unmarketable. He didn’t harvest them! (To be fair, I heard there may have been a problem getting harvesters because Colorado hemp growers pay more, so even the best peaches in the region were going unharvested.) The couple who own the land called around to six or seven churches and offered the fruit for free to members who wanted to pick.

We found out that one reason the couple was interested in sharing the fruit is that bears like to come on their property and eat peaches. Poor bears, they are really scrapping for food with the severe drought we’re having. I suppose the peaches are a blessing for the bears, even if the humans would prefer the bears not help with the harvest.

When we arrived home from our adventure, we shared peaches with our neighbors. We got a nice visit with the newly widowed neighbor and talked about a lot more than peaches.

I made a “crisp” – you know, with the crumbly oatmeal on top – to take to church the next day. We also took a bag of fruit to share. People told me how to can peaches, and I nodded my head. One friend said she never eats peaches because she was raised on a peach farm and had gotten her fill as a kid. In the coming days, I came to appreciate her point of view. That afternoon, I cut up peaches for a topping for the youth group’s ice cream social.

The next day I made what could kindly be called a galette, a “rustic” tart with a rich, rich (did I say rich?) pie crust, made with butter AND cream cheese, and shared with the choir I sing in for dessert night. The pieces that were left made it home, but didn’t survive for long after that.

Then we took peaches to yoga on Tuesday and I made sure every person in class knew they could get more by calling me.

I emailed everybody I could think of, but most people had already gotten their annual allotment of Palisade Peaches (that’s a thing! Google it!). A couple of friends came over for peaches. One friend said she freezes them whole! I had never heard the like. Another friend brought me a jar of her own mixture of southwest spices.

So, it occurred to me through all of this cutting, baking and sharing that we were experiencing a great blessing. Why? Because we had the strength to pick beautiful tree-ripened peaches and enjoyed being out in the fresh day. Because we tasted a few while we picked. Because we got to share them in so many places. They are peach blessings because we will enjoy them in the fall and winter and think about that day in the orchard when we could hardly carry them to the car. We got to see friends who took us up on our offer to get peaches from our house, and will remember the visits we had. We got a little more acquainted with our neighbors under happier circumstances. We made new acquaintances which might develop into friendships!

One last new acquaintance brought her daughters over to pick up a box of our slightly bruised peach blessings on Friday and today I shared another galette at church. I have one more bag to do something with and I may make another tart, this time for the Leprechaun.

So, in the spirit of continuing the dispersal of peach blessings, my hope for you is that, in spite of the hassles, difficulties, bad moods, traffic, and a$$-holery you encounter, you may see the everyday blessings that come your way, and that they will bring you much joy.

With gratitude,

Pam

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