Right before we moved into our new house last year, we were fortunate to get a walk through with the previous owners. They were very sweet and showed us all the quirky way things worked in the old house and it was clear how special they felt about the yard and the different plants and trees they had tended over the years. In particular, there was a little peach tree in the front yard that the couple really loved. When they pointed the tree out to us, I think Steve and I had a little moment of cringing because our track record with fruit trees has not been good and sadly, we have been given fruit trees as memorials to family members who had died, so that lack of success was a bit of a sore subject. Looking back, I hate to think we may have rolled our eyes at that tree, in front of that sweet couple!
We officially moved in mid-June 2015, right around the time school ended and then everything halted when Steve's brother passed away unexpectedly. Not surprisingly, we really didn't pay attention to anything in or around the house until around the July 4th holiday. Well, by then, whatever that little peach tree had on its branches had fallen to the ground. In our minds, the tree had given us a mushy mess, not a bountiful harvest. Plus, we had squirrels and bees take up residence in our front yard so they could feast on the carnage. The tree was a nuisance and it was an odd source of agitation between Steve and me - neither one of us wanted to deal with the clean-up, but of course, the threat of the blame-game would be quick to commence if anyone, especially the kids, got stung by a bee. I think at one point Steve just wanted to get rid of the tree to which I'm fairly certain I called him a "tree-killer."
When we calmed down, we realized we needed to give ourselves a chance to actually live in the house and just pay attention to the tree the next summer. I know that while we realized this we were still harboring some anger and resentment toward the tree, almost hoping it wouldn't produce; it's ridiculous what our emotions can lash out on!
Fast forward to late spring 2016 and we had just gotten through that 17-day rainfest (remember that?!); I thought for sure we were sunk with the peach tree. It looked it me as if the seed pods were just dropping off the tree left and right. We weren't completely being negative about it, but we were reflecting on the previous year and anxious to see what would happen. As the school year came to a close, we were busy attending end of year parties and recitals, then we left town for 2 weeks. So, we decided we would make a decision about what to do when we came home.
We returned home to a great surprise! Peaches were everywhere and they were still on the tree! No mush, no bees - however, the squirrels were starting to show up to feast on the fruit. We knew we had to harvest those sweet little things fast. I have to give credit to Steve for making it a family affair.
The peaches just kept coming. There were some up so high that once we finished getting all that we could, Steve started to shake the tree. It was raining peaches. We just couldn't believe it! Our faith in the fruit tree had been restored. And I think we felt a sense of relief too.
Then, we all looked at each other and said, "What do we do now?" We started out by giving a pound or two to neighbors which was a lovely topic of conversation and fun way to share summertime stories and recipes with each other. I loved that these peaches traveled with neighbors headed out for vacation, that they were served with breakfast to start the day for campers and swimmers, and that they brought joy to our avid gardeners in the neighborhood.
Even with giving out all those peaches, eating them, and making classic desserts like a peach crisp - with Carl's Ice Cream, we still had so much left. I estimate that roughly 50 pounds came off that tree. I decided to give Georgia at Tart Cart a call to see if she could use them. I was happy to hear her elation to receive them and so, I dropped off 10 pounds for her to use for the Farmer's Market. She made the sweetest little peaches and cream tarts with our peaches. When asked by market-goers, "How local are the peaches?" She simply pointed down the hill and said, "Mortimer Avenue." How great is that?
What a difference a year makes, right? Who would have thought that this little peach tree could teach us something? Patience is truly a virtue. Sometimes you just need time to see things differently. Our ability to see the positives in owning this tree allowed us to share and connect with others in the neighboorhood and greater Fredericksburg community. I hope the simple pleasures in life give you moments of reflection too. Here's to Harvest 2017!