Does everybody have an issue with squirrels?
My grandfather had no problems raising peaches — squirrels or no squirrels. He had fruit and I helped pick it, peel it, dry it.
Electricity had arrived in the Naomi community but not electric stoves. Some peaches were canned on the wood-burning cook stove, others were dehydrated.
Sliced peaches laid on windows screens and turned every couple of hours could be dried enough in one afternoon.
Dried peaches went into one flour sack, dried apples into another and both were hung from nails near the cook stove.
Home dried fruit is such a rarity that it is an oddity today.
Freezing fruit is quick and easy, canning takes more effort, but dehydrated fruit doesn’t require any more energy. You only have to take it outside and sun it on a clear warm day and stuff it back in your flour sack or pillow case.
Fried pies are a Southern favorite because they are made of things already in the kitchen. A fried pie is a circle of biscuit dough with rehydrated peaches or apples in the middle with some sugar and ground nutmeg.
The circle is folded to make a half circle. The edges sealed shut, fried and sprinkled with sugar.
Southern cooks could mix up biscuit dough in their sleep so it was an easy dessert.
My grandmother’s neighbor, Mrs. Jewell Brown, kept dried apples on a string.
She cored and sliced little apples, sun dried them and strung them with bailing twine.
The string of dried apples were hung around the kitchen walls almost to the ceiling and reminded me of Christmas garland.
My grandfather’s apple and peach trees survived for decades, nearly a hundred years.
Sometime in the spring, within the last few years, I saw apple blossom petals blowing on a windy day but that piece of land was clear cut and everything is gone.
Oddly, a peach tree survived the years in an odd place.
Every year I spotted green peaches hanging on a tree in a ditch
I never get there at the right time to pick a ripe juicy peach from that tree, and if it didn’t originate from my grandfather’s tree, then where did it come from?
I don’t know that processing peaches is something I’d want to do all year, but an afternoon of it yields results that last all year.
There are varieties of peaches that ripen from June through August and that’s a good thing because my taste for homemade peach ice cream lasts all summer.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, a former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.