Peaches are the nectar that drips from the thick rich days of late summer. As I write this I am swimming in that nectar. I have spent several mornings this past week picking peaches up at West Haven Farm. The experience has been gastronomically rewarding and serene. Picking peaches for the first time I have discovered the act is much different from that of harvesting apples. Due to the delicate nature of the fruit, peaches must be picked slowly with a more gentle touch that allows the process to feel almost meditative. I started out picking some very ripe peaches, the flesh of which felt as if it could give in to the slightest pressure. Not sure of my skill in handling the fruit I only picked two or three before placing them into a plastic flat lined with paper bags. As I became more sure of myself I took small handfuls, balancing them in my open palm.
I found that stepping on a fallen peach was a much different experience from stepping on a carpet of overripe apples. The squish one feels when stepping on a peach feels almost sacrilegious, even if the flesh is half rotten. Although some of the fallen fruit had been on the ground long enough to be discovered by the bees, many of the drops were fresh. Having not the heart to tread on such perfectly ripe fruit, I ventured onto my hands and knees before picking a tree searching for the orange and golden orbs hidden in the tall grass. Returning home with more ripe peaches than I knew what to do with I spent all of an evening cutting, skinning and freezing bags of peaches. And when all the work was done, I sat down with a bowl of peaches and heavy cream drizzled with local honey. Although I have to say that I still prefer picking apples, picking peaches does have it's own charm. There are few things that compare to sitting on the back of a flatbed truck, watching the sun sink low as the inevitable excess juice from a freshly fallen peach drips down your chin.