Saturday, June 7, 2008

Juicy!


My apologies to everybody for the scanty posts lately. The summer travel season has begun, and an average day on our itinerary easily comprises 15 hours of scheduled activities. When the choice is whether to sleep five hours and blog or sleep six hours but not blog, I have opted for the extra sleep - especially since I'm typically an eight-hour-a-night snoozer.

I grew up vacationing at my grandparents’ home in Dalton, Georgia. Every night just before bedtime, my grandfather – a banker by trade, but a farmer by instinct – sat me down at the kitchen table to share a bowl of peaches. Not just any peaches, mind you; his peaches. Juicy, just-peeled peaches. The kind that explode in your mouth when you bite down on the fleshy pulp.

Pop liked his peaches swimming in cold whole milk. Me, too.

Although he’s been gone a long time now, I still love Pop’s kind of peaches. You can keep those stony, bland-tasting look-alikes. My taste buds have been tainted by the real thing.

Thank goodness we don’t have to drive to north Georgia to find “real” peaches anymore. This time of year, we head straight to Mitcham Farms, three turns off Interstate 20 about two miles north of Ruston, La.

“People start asking about the peaches in January, but now the phone rings all day every day,” says Joe Mitcham, second-generation owner of the 130-acre farm. “Everybody wants to know if the peaches are in. We picked our first batch around May 20 and will likely continue through the end of July.”

Joe’s father was a little like my part-farmer Pop. Mr. Mitcham had a day job as a high school music teacher, but he bought land in 1946 and planted his first trees the following year.

“Dad retired from the classroom in ’63,” says Joe, “but he served as principal for 10 more years. Now 91, he was still active in the fields until two years ago.”

The peach fields originally planted by J.E. Mitcham, Sr., have gradually become woven into the fabric of Ruston’s economy. The Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival, held the fourth weekend in June, has been a local tradition for 57 years.

Today, we took my grandson to Mitcham's to taste his first "real" peaches and to sample their homemade peach ice cream.

Part of the beauty of our summers is enjoying the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables available at area farms and markets!

4 comments:

Cammy said...

I love fresh peaches. Jones Orchard, just north of Memphis, has wonderfully, juicy peaches this time of year. I used to go with my grandmother to pick peaches, and we would always have a couple straight from the bushel basket. Just peel them, lean forward slightly to avoid getting juice on our clothes, and bite into the juicy goodness. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. :)

Grumpy Chair said...

I can visualize you as a little one with your pop, sitting at the table each night with your bowls of peaches and milk. Just sounds like that scene should be in a movie.

Manuela said...

I just love summer, don't you?

I went strawberry picking this morning but am definitely looking forward to some juicy, local peaches!

Nicole said...

Gah! We probably won't have fresh peaches until August, darn it!

I hope you're enjoying yourself, despite how busy you are.