Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Peach Pie to Celebrate a Wedding Anniversary

Blossoming peach with wren house at spring
Today is the sixteenth anniversary of Sandy and my marriage. At the beginning of our marriage when we bought our home, on our first spring together we planted a peach tree in the southeast corner of our lot, replacing a crabapple that hadn't survived the winter. That tree is now sixteen years old, a grand old age for a grafted semi-dwarf fruit tree, and its limbs are propped up by two supporting poles, its profile over the years grown more gnarled and wind-sculptured. But it still grows delicious fruit, and this year was a year of high production. 

The website Gardenia describes the Reliance peach tree as follows: "Noted for its cold-hardiness, Prunus persica 'Reliance' is a vigorous and fast-growing peach tree adorned with profuse soft pink blossoms in early-mid spring. They are followed by a heavy crop of medium-sized, freestone, red-blushed yellow fruits in mid-late summer. The soft yellow flesh has a good flavor."

This spring our peach tree was spared from late frosts, so an abundance of blossoms led to an abundance of fruit set and harvest. Usually harvest follows a pattern. First I pick early maturing fruit that we eat for breakfast, added to muesli or yogurt. Then as more fruit matures, we begin a one- or two-week cycle of baking peach cobblers or peach crisps three or four times a week. It's hard to imagine, even for me who has lived the reality, but after a couple of weeks of frequent crisps and cobblers, we get a little tired of the bounty. Then I begin harvesting a bowl of peaches every morning, cutting them up, and then freezing them in around six-cup batches for peach pies. At the end of this season, I had put aside enough peaches for six pies.

Last week, Sandy and I talked about our wedding anniversary. "Don't get me a card or gift," she said. "I just want to do something together."

"How about we bake a peach pie?"

"Oh! I'd forgotten about the peaches! Perfect!"

The peaches thawed to a generous, delicious portion just right for a deep dish pie. Sandy used a beautiful etched, clear-glass pie plate given to us by my mother, and the pie was probably the best-tasting peach pie I've ever eaten, the flavors full yet subtle and the crust light and flaky. Of course, it wasn't just how the pie tasted; it was also how Sandy and I spent our time together, how we shared this experience over an entire year of enjoying and caring for our peach tree.

It's a temptation to make a big symbolic gesture with that pie regarding our marriage: pure, nurturing, a product of shared values and energy. I'll keep it simple, though. It's a good pie, and it's a good marriage. In these times of challenge, I'm looking forward to baking one home-grown peach pie a month to help us get through the winter. 

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