The orchards were calling my name this morning, and their voice was so melodious, I ignored everything else and answered the call. I’ve only got my darling Heather here for three days, and I justified spending three hours picking the bounty of God’s green earth to be an acceptable compromise.
It was a lovely, saturated, satisfying, sustaining, delicious and wholesome day. After a late breakfast of leftover french toast, cheesy eggs, cinnamon apples and orange juice, Heather and I packed the boys in the car and headed out to the farms.
I was hoping for apples and pumpkins, but with the late spring and mild summer we’ve had, many things are weeks behind schedule. We found a farm we liked, put on the sun hat, grabbed a hand-cart and headed out towards the trees. No apples yet at this farm. Turns out we were just in time for the tail-end of the peaches. Lovely, succulent, sun-warmed, juicy and fuzzy peaches. Beanie ate two of them right there in the orchard, dripping sticky juice all over himself and not even caring. If this keeps up, I’m not going to recognize my boy soon. Boy clothes AND new foods. Mamas head is spinning.
We also found some green tomatoes screaming to be fried up with cornmeal in Sipsey’s old cast iron skillet. I had to get them.
The cucumber patch was next, and though the plants were covered in tiny gherkins and tons of blossoms, there were only enough ripe ones to put up one small batch of Bread and Butter pickles. Mmmmm. I’m sending them home with Heather for Crazy Chicken Annie- she loves them, and the recipe is from my great-great grandmother in Iowa. I don’t really like B&B pickles, but I make them every summer, just since the tradition of doing it feels like a warm, crisp apron from the line in the backyard.
Some peppers, onions and garlic made it’s way into our wagon, as well as some spectacularly fuchsia dirt-laden beets. Jeffrey won’t eat them, but he sure did have fun digging them up with me. I vow this year to find a recipe for beets I like- each year I’m enchanted with how lovely they are, then I cook them and remember they taste like dirt.
We tip-toed past the beehives, buzzing with activity in the warm afternoon, and discussed whether bees are in fact, busy. The consensus was Yes, and wasps are just mean. The bees were on our way to the enormous rows of blackberry brambles…
At first, I was thinking we would just get a few, maybe enough to make a pie or some jam- but they were so fantastically fat and squishy and juicy and heavenly, we quickly filled a basket with more than ten pounds of berries. And we never even made it all the way down ONE row. That’s how many berries there were… Beanie ate as many as he put in the baskets, the purple juice mingling with the peach on his chin and shirt. He and Jeff also made friends with other berry-seekers among the brambles. My children are not shy.
Our baskets were overflowing, and the cart was getting heavy. Jeff and Bean labored under the hot sun to pull the wagon back to the cider house. Gimpy Heather and Lazy Mama sipped mint juleps in the shade… no? Oh, I keep wandering off. Ok, so we paid for our bounty, nabbed some local honey from those lazy, no good bees, and hopped back in the car to look for pumpkins and apples.
No pumpkins, and we had to search out the apples, finally finding an organic farm with some fantastic honey crisp lovelies Heather is smuggling under her shirt back to California tomorrow. No one will notice, I’m sure.
I picked up another honey made by those lazy bees, and some apples too. We had just about had our fill of nature and honey and outdoor-ness, so we headed home.
Tonight, after I made the pickles, Heather watched a movie with the Monkeys while I made the best double-crust peach pie you will ever, ever not see, and a blackberry tart with french pastry cream filling, drizzled with red currant glaze. All. From. Scratch. Yes. I rock.
I still have nine and a half pounds of blackberries I need to make into jam- but I was out of jars and lids. I told you I’m lazy. Martha Stewart would have blown the canning jars herself from the silica she keeps in a pretty, labelled basket for just such an emergency. But me? Nope. I folded. I blinked. I chickened out, and there the blackberries sit, taunting me in my mediocrity.
Getting the boys in bed was a teary affair. They’ve decided Auntie Heather hangs the moon, and they were both teary messes with the thought of her leaving in the morning. It was good to be distracted, then I could just pretend the wetness on my cheeks was transfer from the bawling boys. It’s been a good weekend…