Yesterday, after consulting michiganpeach.org and calling the toll-free number for the "ripe and ready report" at one of my favorite orchards, I motored across state lines to catch the last wave of the season for my beloved stone fruit. There will be peach pie in the dead of winter. Tree-Mendus grows more than 30 varieties of peaches, such as Flaming Fury and Jersey Dawn varieties that are ready for harvest in July. The ripest at the moment are the Lorings, and I ask to be directed to those trees.
The epicenter of peach production in Michigan lies about 100 miles from Chicago. It's familiar territory. I might get turned around driving the back roads, but I never get lost. A "wrong" turn put me on a dirt road from my ripe-and-ready youth. The road runs along the east side of the St. Joseph River and I had been longing to see it again. Another turn—to satisfy the whim of my friend Carol, a horse person who sees a sign for an equestrian center—takes us past a fleet of old school buses. They are painted green and filled with watermelons. On the way home, when we pass a school bus on I-94 and Carol bursts out laughing, I know why. Now you might too:
With the temperature in the high 80s, the vehicle quickly fills with the aroma of peach. It was an ambrosial drive. The Lorings perfumed the apartment through the night but, ripe and ready means there is no time to dillydally. By 7 a.m., I'm up preparing the bushel of peaches for the freezer. And there are plums too, Rose. The farmhand managed to upsell me and I thought, why not? I love you too plums, a bushel and a peck. Liqueur making commences mañana.