Himself, at the door of my office with a look of consternation on his face. Me, engrossed in editing a piece of text on a subject too dry to mention, trying but failing to ignore the hovering. Himself, with a proclamation: We have a bit of a peach crisis. Cue end of my evening.
Crisis, I thought. Hardly a crisis. So we only have one peach on the tree, we can live with that. Fruit and me, we don’t get on. My list of allergies grows longer each season (cucumber fell this summer) and fruit is high on my list of things not to eat, so I wasn’t that bothered. But he was in a bit of a dither. Unknown to me, at the far end of the garden in the other house was a lone peach tree. A small, lone peach tree. A peach tree that this summer, despite the odds, decided to give of itself and share its bounty.
I still weigh everything in terms of luggage. I can nail 10 kg near as dammit. Same with 20kg. And with a mental adjustment, I can even hit 50 lbs on the head. My guess? He picked 15 kg of fruit. The crisis was that I was leaving the next day for a week and the fruit wouldn’t wait.
We spent the evening blanching, peeling, and canning enough fruit to fill six large jars of sliced peaches. Himself made a peach cobbler. And the following morning, before I left, he went in search of red onions and lemons so that I could make some peach chutney – a first attempt. My jams didn’t do so well last year so this year I’ve started in on the chutney thing. I’m even attracting some chutney fans with at least two takers for a jar of each batch. Chutney needs time to mature; this batch should be ready in time for Christmas. I’ve already made cherry chutney with Jordanian spices, a RhuChAp (rhubarb, cherry and apple) chutney, and a green tomato chutney. This foray into Peachland will be my first. Six jars later and we were done.
Back during one of the cherry chutney sessions, himself was jarring the produce and discovered he had a lot of juice left over. Rather than throw it out, he bottled it as a salad dressing. Delicious. We’ve been doing that since, so in addition, we have a litre of peach salad dressing that tastes divine and will keep for a couple of weeks, if refrigerated.
It wasn’t what I’d planned to do with my evening or indeed my last morning in the village for a while. But needs must. Nature has a lovely way of interrupting the best-laid plans. Such is village life. I feel a huge responsibility to turn the fruit we’re given into something. I do my deal with the birds. They get to keep the stuff I can’t reach, which I think is fair. But I simply cannot let the rest go to waste. It feels so, so wrong. So wasteful. So inconsiderate. What we had left over has gone into the pálinka pot and hopefully this year, too, we’ll have a bumper crop of vegyes pálinka (fruit brandy). Having discovered how good it tastes directly from the freezer, we’re in danger of running out of last year’s supply before this year’s is ready.
The peaches caught me by surprise. The pears have given me ample warning. Forget about stocking up on toilet paper. I need to get the jams jars in and the red onions and the candied ginger.
In a world that is getting increasingly anxious, I’m very grateful that this is my lot.
For more on the Grateful series: https://unpackingmybottomdrawer.com/the-grateful-series/