There is a special kind of wisdom that comes from the older population. My grandparents are a wealth of knowledge. They have a way of knowing things that just can’t be learned in textbooks. It’s words of wisdom passed down from generation to generation. It would seem that all of their gems of wisdom also come with life lessons if you really pay attention. The birth of Google has allowed us to retrieve and research an abundance of information. But let’s not forget the wisdom of those who have come before us, especially the wisdom of the old-timers in the North Georgia mountains.
My grandfather is a brilliant man. He can walk into the woods and identify every tree within sight. He has a kinship with the plants that I’ve never seen in anyone else. My favorite memories of him are the times I walked through his massive garden learning about planting and the times I sat at the barstool in the kitchen and watched him can fruits and vegetables. Now some readers may not understand what I mean by canning. I would encourage you to use Google and study up on the process. You would be amazed at how much better the fruits and vegetables taste compared to what you would find in your local grocery store. It’s truly a dying art and I believe with some education, it’s time to resurrect this practice across the south. Cooking and canning can involve your entire family in a bonding activity that will create valuable memories. There’s no better place to create memories than the heart of the home… the kitchen.
Several years back, I was sitting at a bar stool in my grandparent’s kitchen. My grandfather was preparing to can some pickled peaches. Pickled peaches are one of my favorite treats. It’s a perfect combination of slight sweetness combined with just enough zest to make your taste buds pop. There were many times while I was pregnant with my youngest son that I would crack open a jar and consume the entire contents in one sitting. My grandfather muttered something about the peaches he was working with being perfect to pickle. At the time, I assumed all peaches were created equal and didn’t understand why this particular type of peach was so perfect to pickle.
He explains that different peaches can be used for different things. Clingstone peaches like the Santa Rosa have the flesh of the peach clinging securely to the pit. They are sweet and easy to eat right away after picking. Red Havens are known as semi freestone peaches which is to say that the flesh falls away easier from the pit than a true clingstone. The Red Havens are firmer with a bit of tartness that makes the perfect for canning. Because they are firmer, they tend to be difficult to work with and can bruise easily. Bruised peaches can be unappealing to the average consumer that doesn’t appreciate their value.
After several hours with my grandfather, the conversation turns to a more symbolic meaning. People are like peaches. You will come across some people who are like Santa Rosa. They are naturally sweet and low maintenance. You can pick them and enjoy them right away. Others are more like the Red Haven. They are firmer. They can be difficult to work with and sometimes they come to you already bruised by circumstances. It would be easy to throw these people away because, on the surface, they are unappealing. However, if you look deeper, you will see a person that is perfect for another path in life. They may be a little time consuming but with the right response, they can be a type of sweet-spicy flavor that is so much better than a boring plain peach.
Life has a way of draining us. We are so exhausted by our circumstances that we tend to seek the path of least resistance and opt for the Santa Rosa. However, I encourage you to slow down. Recharge your batteries and consider the Red Havens in your life. They may take a little more work but the results will far exceed your expectations of what a plain peach can do.
Yes, we all have responsibilities. However, you will never grow old wishing you had spent more time in the office. Take the time to take your family on that overdue vacation. Make sure you cherish your loved ones and create your own memories in the kitchen. Gather your loved ones together and bond over your common culinary delights while you teach… share… and love. What seems like a moment can last a generation.