Peach Picking Legacies
Yes, this is my first blog post in … forever. Instead of making a big deal of it, I’m just going to jump into it … with juicy, ripe peaches.
Every year we go out to Schnepf Farms during the peach festival to celebrate with the historic landmark in their tradition of opening up the peach fields to the community. Every year we endure the first of the desert heat waves as we trudge the dusty trails toward the orchards of the farm, slapping mosquitos off every exposed part of our body just to smell the scent of ripe peaches in the air and eat a peach fresh off the tree. Every year is just like the one before. Enduring the long lines, trying to find the ripe fruit that everyone didn’t pick and scavenging for something Vegan to eat. You would think with the plethora of kale and broccoli growing in the u-pick gardens there would be something on the menu consisting of these ingredients. Nevertheless, we smuggled in some of our own food and a blanket and pick-nicked under a shady tree, munching on fresh lettuce and cherry tomatoes we had just picked fresh from our garden that morning. Since today was a weekday the only action on the farm was the smell of the country store baking up their famous peach cinnamon rolls and the whistle of the train as it blew it’s horn warning pedestrians to get out of the way.
It’s amazing how having a child will change the way you think about everything. EVERYTHING. Even about the way you pick a peach. This year was more than just a peach festival; more than a tradition.
For the last two weeks our sweet little baby boy has not jumped, but dove head first into what I can only assume is what they mean when they say, “terrible two’s”. There has been biting, kicking, hitting and for no reason at all tantrums of yelling at toys that just suddenly seem to not be working the way they should be. The car seat is out of the question. However, getting out of the house and using distraction and curiosity seems so far to be the best way to ease the wrath of my feisty toddler.
In cases like this I would normally turn to my bible of Mommyhood, The Wonder Weeks to get some insight into what he might be feeling or thinking and some advice on how to handle these moments of intense frustration and anger. But the book ends at age 1 1/2. I’ve tried every trick in the book. I’ve stayed calm, used soft voices, whispered to get his attention, big hugs and sympathizing phrases, explanations, time outs, withholding snacks and treats … and yes, even a spanking.
I personally don’t believe in spanking as punishment and I learned very quickly that, besides feeling terrible about it, I just seemed to be reinforcing the concept of hitting. If he can’t hit me, why am I hitting him? If I slam a door in frustration, so does he. If I say something is “stupid” he says it’s stupid five more times. Oops. I am realizing just how careful I need to be when showing my emotions or acting on my own frustration. Which, let’s be honest … I’ve never been a very patient person and as a restaurant owner, after a Mother’s Day weekend of intense cooking, being on my feet with no break, not eating well, sleeping very few hours because your toddler doesn’t know what “sleeping in” means, followed by a handful of terrible reviews (literally making us feel like at the end of the weekend we had been chewed up and spit out like a wade of gum) … makes being patient with tantrums and enduring massive amounts of energy extremely hard to be calm (hence, the spanking).
Thank God for Dads.
The point of all this is that last night at the dinner table and for the first time ever, I saw our Son spit out every vegetable on his plate.
“But you love mushrooms!?”
“No. It’s gross.”
And then today I saw him pick small pieces of swiss chard and collard greens and eat them – straight from the garden and still attached to the earth. He spit them out too and called them gross but then he moved onto to a broccoli plant and did the same. I watched him romp through the field of vegetables and try to hide in the towering bushes of purple lettuce whose days were imminent and turning to seed. He stood in the bounty of the garden learning what he could and could not eat.
He sat in random places of the orchard running blades of grass between his fingers. He walked through the peach orchard biting into the juicy flesh of the yellow peaches and collecting them in our basket as we picked them. I think he understood their importance.
This means so many things for me. To watch him today made me worry a little less about his sudden disgust with broccoli. It reminded me of climbing the trees in my Grandmother’s orchard to eat the plumbs. Cracking open walnut and hazelnut shells in the woods around our house and feeling the crunchy texture between my teeth. Watching my mom can peaches for the first time in the kitchen and eating them for desert with cottage cheese. Pulling fresh blueberries off the plant in the fields nearby so my best friend’s Mom could make us her famous blueberry muffins for breakfast after one of our sleepovers.
Food is more than food. It is memories. It is nourishment, tradition and part of our heritage.
What amazes me most is that it all starts with a seed. There is nothing like standing in a field of vegetables or gazing into a bright yellow sunflower the size of your face and feeling a sense of happiness, or tasting the first bite of a juicy peach when it’s in season.
When we arrived home he was out cold so I lay him on the couch to nap. His face was covered in peach juice and dirt and I noticed the way his cheeks were pink and puffy. It was one of those moments that you can’t help but stare and relish in the perfection and innocence of someone so little. I heard the quiet sounds of the house amidst the murmur of his heavy breathing. Finally I could relax and have some time to myself but all I wanted to do was sit and wrap my arm around him and feel his heavy head against my chest.
I found myself our son remembers today the way I remember my memories.
This is my legacy.