Monday, May 13, 2013

`Like Wine Compared to Beer'

I bought and planted a peach sapling about two feet tall in January. It leafed out and flowered in February and in March the dog bit off the top and left it dangling. With duct tape and a dowel rod I performed emergency splinting, and it seemed to be recovering until the dog snapped it again. The leaves had withered so I removed the old stem surgically, but another with shiny green leaves and small buds almost ready to burst has sprouted and the little peach tree seems to be on the mend. This confirms my allegiance to cats.
I haven’t eaten a good peach in years. They seem even harder and less flavorful than most apples. Our neighbor when I was a boy was a German woman who owned two lots side by side, one for her house, the other for her vast garden, a veritable neighborhood of sub-gardens with corn, cabbage, tomatoes and beans. Standing at its center was a Y-shaped peach tree. In memory, her peaches were small but sweet and juicy enough to stain your T-shirt. Thoreau in his journal on this date, May 13, in 1858, noted a neighbor’s peach trees were in bloom: 

“[They have] the richest, highest color of any tree’s bloom, like wine compared to beer; the trees, bare of leaves, one mass of pink, some dark, some light, almost flame-like seen against green hillsides or the red ground where the woods have just been cut. How much more beautiful than the life of the peach-raiser! No such rich pink bloom falling through cracks in the dark shutters irradiates his soul. If only such a peach-bloom hue suffused the dark chambers of his soul! Large masses of bloom with the delicate tint which commonly belongs to minute plants only.” 

Only Thoreau would liken a peach blossom to a neighbor’s soul, to the detriment of the latter. One year earlier, on May 19, 1857, he smelled the formic acid given off by ants and concluded “it is not at all sickening, but tonic, and reminds me of a bitter flavor like that of peach-meats.”


Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

I wish I could send you a Calhoun County (Illinois) peach. They were one of the great pleasures of life in St. Louis. But they do not travel.

Chuck Kelly said...

I came across a Black Walnut tree in Richmond, TX last fall. It had dropped a bushel of nuts on the ground. I picked up 9 of them and put 8 in my refrigerator.

I cracked one open with a lot of effort. Not much meat. Hardly seemed worth the effort, but I want to germinate the other nuts because Walnuts must have been plentiful in Fort Bend County 200 years ago. 'Walnut' appears in many old place names.

I planted the nuts in early April. Three have germinated so far. Here is a picture of the first one: These two are not far behind:

I'm excited because I've never grown a tree 'from seed' before.