Mutiny of the bounty

KODAK Digital Still CameraI’m feeling in need of what might be called a harvest nap, having returned yesterday from my gardener friend Ann’s home with several hundred ripe and rosy peaches.

The yield of one ambitious tree, the fruit has already deranged Ann’s exceptional sense of order.  When I arrived to help pick stragglers and take home surplus, peaches were spilling over bowls onto kitchen countertops, waiting to be prepped for post-tree life as slices, salsa and jam.  Water simmering in the old enameled canning kettle steamed the windows as Ann peeled, sliced and chopped, sweat tickling her forehead.  It was clear — at least at this juncture — who was sailing this ship:  not the captain of the bounty but its constituents,  whose perfect ripeness demanded her urgent attention. KODAK Digital Still Camera

Now they’re working on me.  So far, I have dehydrated peaches, frozen peaches and — this last an experiment — prepared a fragrant peach applesauce in the slow cooker.  I forbade myself to go to bed last night before I sliced  another batch for the dehydrator, where they dried to leathery sweetness while I slept.

Today comprises more putting up of various kinds at both households — Ann reckons the tree produced well over a thousand peaches —  securing the harvest in that brief, beautiful moment of peak flavor, which soon and precipitously gives way to rot.  Neither of us has the energy to contemplate making a pie, though I hope I may yet rally, as it seems a shame not to enjoy amid all this future-oriented preserving the present-moment pleasure of a fresh peach pie.

Sharing in my friend’s harvest is especially welcome in the wake of a violent storm that recently destroyed the modest spinach, kale and cherry tomato yield I had anticipated at my own homestead.

The tempest — black skies, copious rain, crashing thunder and hail, gale-force winds —  stressed my small flock of chickens, though they were safe in their coop.   My buff Orpington Tess commenced an early molt, and the next day another hen laid a huge double-yolker, which results from a hiccup in a chicken’s egg-making physiology.  They’re rare in my flock — a good thing, given that large eggs can bind in a chicken’s oviduct or cause a prolapse, both serious and potentially fatal conditions.

But all of the girls were intact and in good spirits, so I turned my attention to the ginormous offering, which dwarfed the other eggs and pushed my weighing scale to the limits of “extra large:”

 

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The bounty of one chicken thus documented,  I did the only sensible thing, and had dinner:

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Which has me thinking again about the importance of not only preserving the harvest, but savoring its present, ephemeral beauty.  So I’ll be off to the grocer’s soon for lard — only my grandmother’s crust recipe will do — and add to today’s sweet and pressing labors the making of two peach pies, in celebration of a hard-working tree, the generous friend who tended it with love,  and a bountiful harvest that realized —  to overflowing — the efforts of both.

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14 comments

  1. Ann Seymour · · Reply

    Cate thank you for the wonderful description of my tree and the process of harvesting and preserving the fruit for the long winter to come. I canned 12 pints of peach slices, 10 pints of peach salsa, 6 pints of jam and 11 half pints of ginger peach jam (guess what friends will get for Christmas?). I also sliced and froze 10 quart bags to be used for pies and smoothies. I’m so appreciative of your help harvesting and for the amazing pie delivered to my back door stoop.

    Apples are next . . . !

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    1. A shared pleasure, Ann. Looking forward to the apples!

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  2. NoAZLady · · Reply

    An aunt I loved dearly would make peach cobbler for us when she would visit. With your exquisite way with words, you brought back the memory so clearly – thank you for sharing this, I felt almost as if I was there with you and, I would’ve been happy to help!

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, and I would have been glad to have your help! I delivered my friend Ann’s pie this morning and will be sampling mine later today. It’s been ages since I made a pie crust, but all turned out capably, if not elegantly. 🙂

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  3. I had to chuckle at the title – yes, what abundance! I could almost smell the peaches as I read this – enjoy the pies!

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    1. I will; thank you! It’s not often these days that a girl gets a little lard. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish I was your neighbor today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’d make the coffee; I’d bring the pie. 🙂

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  5. i’m glad the chicken
    came first!
    bon appetite 🙂

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    1. Thank you, good sir!

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  6. Pat: willow88switches · · Reply

    I am struck by the beauty, the quiet beauty of your words. And it also makes me smile a bit, at our absolute “weirdness” as humans. You speak of the bounty, of this clearly glorious fruit tree, how your friend estimates over a thousand fruit yielded, which is incredible (although perhaps not for a mature peach tree (I couldn’t say, we can’t grow peaches where I am – too cold) – and how now, of course, there is the push on, to preserve, for the future. And you speak of wanting, needing to also taste of this bounty now – a little something. A pie? Yes. A pie. And what strikes me so hard, with this sudden flash of “oh my, aren’t we just ‘foolish’ at times” is how, yes, when harvests come in, we have to expend so much energy. Clearly, as you know only too well, preserves take time – so much effort and prep and in the end, after it’s all done, it was, of course, worth it.
    But the “flash” that came to me was this: does the tree laugh for our efforts?

    we speak of the energy WE expend, to save, to preserve, to benefit – and yet, right now, for the first time, I’m feeling things from the other side – how much energy does the tree expend, from its breaking of dormancy after winter, through the spring blossoms etc., in the pollination, to the fruit setting etc. before it all comes down to this sweetest of moments. And wow, if my mind hasn’t just walked right into this “other consciousness” ~ so thank you. This early afternoon, your post has offered me this wonderful gift.

    … and now, I’m going to visit with the “wild” few apples and crab apples that border the acreage where I am … and just be energized by the growing fruit, just beginning to set their blush …

    Have a wonderful weekend and I hope the peach pie is a sweet and delicious treat for the senses and soul.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love your engaged response; thank you. And yes, I suspect the tree is laughing, having passed off the work to us. I can tell you she sure looked lighter — relieved, actually — to be unburdened of her fruit. Her branches had gotten so heavy during the growing season that Ann had to carefully support them to keep them from breaking. We are profoundly appreciative of her epic effort, as you have described; it was far more sustained and far more amazing than ours.

      It sounds as if you are in lovely surrounds, and have an appreciative spirit — a wonderful combination, to be sure. Enjoy your weekend, too! Me, I’ve got a couple of pies to bake.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pat: willow88switches · · Reply

        I can certainly believe the tree needed support during her bearing, and is clearly relieved now!
        as for the laughter … perhaps a slow chuckle 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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