Backyard Summer Peaches
“You know, you ought to make a peach pie while you’re here…”
Dad had just laid out an armful of fragrant, blushing peaches on the island. He said it offhandedly, as if the thought of homemade pie had just occurred to him, though we both knew full well that peach pie was one of his very favorite treats, that he’d been plotting this for some time, and that I’d unequivocally say yes.
I followed him out to the peach tree, which stood bigger than I remembered, the twisting branches heaving under the weight of dozens of resplendent, rosy-hued fruit. I happened to be back home in Santa Barbara for a long weekend right in the midst of the ephemeral peach season, a twelve minute period that falls sometime between late-June and early-July every year.
If you stand under those heavy, dappled branches for more than a moment during that fleeting season (really about two weeks long), you’ll hear the regular, sorrowful thunk of too-ripe-to-hold-on-any-longer peaches hitting the ground, as they all ripen at once. It’s a delicious battle every Summer to consume and give away as many sweet, flavorful, perfect peaches as possible before the yellowjackets set in at the end of the short-lived harvest. But for the moment, I was focused on pie, and picked as many peaches as I could carry.
Eleven peaches would make their way into a stunning lattice-topped pie, capping off Sunday dinner, while the rest of that splendid hoard would be eaten inelegantly, hunched over the sink, sticky, sweet, peach juice running down our chins…