Do Sweet as Peaches
My husband and I are driving the backcountry roads that wind through the Texas Hill Country, heading to Fredericksburg. An hour and a half west of Austin, the country drive takes us past Texas Longhorn cattle with three-feet-long horns, and enticing mom-and-pop antique shops that will have to wait for another time. On these last days of summer vacation, we are on a mission to eat the peaches that Fredericksburg is famous for. That rose-gold fruit has always represented summer to me – the long, slow days of youth that stretch out forever – and I’m nostalgic for the floral fruit.
Coming around a curve on Highway 290, there is no question that we’ve arrived. Signs announcing “Fresh Peaches!” and “Peach Ice Cream!” and “Peach Preserves!” stretch for miles, each in front of a pop-up roadside market filled with stalls of stacked peaches and blackberries. My husband pulls over on the gravel drive and that delicate, sweet scent is instantly recognizable. How to choose? We try everything: peach relish, peach chutney, and a peach fried pie—is there nothing Texans can’t fry? Somehow we even make room for a giant piece of warm peach cobbler with Texas’s famous Blue Bell ice cream.
The market owners are third-generation peach farmers. In peak season, May through August, they’re out here selling seven days a week. The cost of shipping is too prohibitive, not to mention harvesting too small a supply for the big distributors, so they sell at local farmers markets and here, at their roadside stand. “Plus, it’s nice to meet the people who are buying our peaches.” They invite us to walk through the orchard and pick our own fruit. We take our time strolling through the rows of trees, noting that many of them have only a few peaches left. It’s only a matter of weeks before the crisp of fall arrives.
Time has slowed and the late afternoon sun gives everything that halcyon glow that makes us already wistful for the moment we’re in. We say our goodbyes and get back in the car to head home. With a warm breeze blowing through the open window and the brown paper bag of fresh peaches we picked on my lap, I take a mental picture. A summer memory recaptured.