(HOST) It’s been a good year for commentator Edith Hunter’s fruit trees. One in particular has kept her very busy indeed.
(HUNTER) As I sat beside the gardenhouse cutting the ends off my string beans, I was struck by the beauty of the late summer afternoon. And I was struck by the prevailing colors – green, yellow and purple.
Because of the frequent and unusually heavy rains this summer, the lawns and the foliage were still a lush, rich green. And although the golden glow by the house has faded, the goldenrod was blooming everywhere. And the wild purple asters just opening up, completed the lovely picture.
The three colanders of string beans that I had picked, reflected the same colors. I always plant three twenty-foot rows of bush beans to blanche and freeze – one of green beans, one of yellow wax beans, and one of purple beans.
In front of me the big old St. Lawrence apple tree stood heavy with fruit. With all the rain in May people worried whether or not the bees would be able to pollinate. Somehow they got the job done. The yellow transparent are all harvested into apple sauce, and a fine crop of St. Lawrence and Northern Spy are just ripening. But the real wonder of the year, is the peach tree. We planted this tree, a Reliance, in 1991, in memory of my mother-in-law who loved peaches. It has been producing good crops off and on since 1998. This year the crop has been nothing short of spectacular. The peach is native to China, but this variety was developed by plant breeders at the University of New Hampshire. The tree will survive temperatures twenty-five degrees below zero. It is not a large tree, and the years of heavy crops have bent the main trunk. Graham put some guy wires on it several years ago. This year, he has put two by fours under four of its heavily laden branches. Every afternoon, bathed in the western sun, the tree is a sight to behold. Among the green leaves can be seen the downy yellow peaches whose skin is over-laid by a striking peach-red.
The crop ripens unevenly, and rather than feeling of each one to find out whether or not it is ripe, we mostly just let them drop to the ground. I pick them up several times a day. As soon as I have enough, I process them. The first day they came down in any number I picked up thirty-six. The next day we had a heavy rain, and I picked up sixty-three. So far I have canned thirty pints, and we have eaten dozens.
When Graham was a little boy we always made peach ice cream with an old-fashioned ice cream maker. We used peaches bought by Grandmother Hunter.
This year Graham decided to resume the practice of ice cream making, and there was no shortage of home-grown peaches!
Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center.