Our two little dwarf peach trees are delivering peaches. One has the golden flesh peach and one has the white flesh peach. Suddenly on Sunday we had about four dozen peaches. We ate some and then ate some more but we still had lots of peaches left. I decided to preserve some for the future. I considered canning them but decided to do something less daunting. I parboiled them and then put them in freezer bags. They won’t be as good as Mom’s canned peaches but they will be good.
I remembered going into the cellar as a child to get some canned vegetables or fruit. It was like entering Aladdin’s magical cave. On the shelves were rows and rows of the vegetables, fruit, meat and condiments that Mom “put up.” I wondered as I worked with the peaches how she knew exactly what to do. She must have learned from her mother and grandmothers. We still wish that we had the exact recipe for her dill pickles. She canned “chow-chow,” which is a finely chopped pickle concoction, pickled beets and sweet pickles as well as the dill pickles.
Mom canned all of our food. There were jars of green beans and peas, yellow corn, and red tomatoes. Glowing on the shelves were golden peaches, pale yellow pears, purple plums, and dark golden apricots. Jars of jams and jellies stood in rows: plum, peach, apricot and chokecherry. We loved chokecherry even though picking chokecherries was quite a task. Mom made chokecherry syrup and we savored it on pancakes.
As I prepared the peaches by popping them in boiling water for a minute, I remember helping Mom as we peeled boxes and boxes of peaches for canning. She canned in a hot kitchen with big pots of boiling water. She was meticulous about cleanliness and sterilized everything that was used: jars, lids, and rubber rings. We slipped off the skins of the peaches and pitted them in preparation for putting them in the jars. We peeled the pears and washed the plums. We helped prepare the beans and peas for canning, but it was Mom who bore the brunt of the work. She stood over a hot stove and worked long hours while still preparing meals for her family and the people who helped us harvest. Picking up a few peaches from the ground and putting them in the freezer in a nice cool kitchen doesn’t begin to compare with the work that Mom did.
I have been reading a lovely book written by Patty Smith, the young daughter of friends. She wrote the following, in a letter to a friend:
I found a mango today, dropped by God into the soft arms of a shrub. It glowed red, orange and green and warmed my hand with the sun’s heat. As I nibbled at the juicy flesh, I thanked God for everything God gently lets fall in my path.
The world is full of flowers for my hat and wonderful people to talk to . . . and perfect mangoes.
Patty died a few months after writing this. She was a wonderfully mature and gifted 18 year old, full of gratitude until the very end. I am trying to be more grateful for all that God has let fall in my path . . . both peaches and mangoes.
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