Wednesday, August 29, 2012



Prunus persica, the ordinary peach, is prized around the world as one of nature's sweetest treats. In America, only the apple exceeds the peach among commercially cultivated fruits. Peach-friendly places around the globe, however, fall within two narrow bands, one in each hemisphere. Extreme cold, though not enough to kill the trees themselves, can kill a season's new buds. And peaches ripen fully only in summer's heat.

Most of all, though, peaches have a chilling requirement. In technical terms, peaches require a certain number of chill hours in order to undergo vernalization, or the competence to flower in spring after exposure to prolonged winter cold. Perhaps the best colloquial expression of this folk wisdom (albeit one tinged with longing and impatience) comes from the folk singer-songwriter, Gillian Welch:

Peaches in the summertime, apples in the fall
If I can’t have you all the time, I won’t have none at all

A Song Dynasty painting of peach blossoms and a bird, attributed to Emperor Huizong (1082-1135).

Bad times will and do befall us. In whatever we set out to do, including but not limited to the cultivation of peaches, a season of cold is not only inevitable. It is affirmatively necessary.

Let us therefore confront the cold, as we must, and clear those trees that have fallen. Frost today, fuzz tomorrow. Though we hope for a peach harvest we have yet to see, we do with patience wait for it. And that fruit, when at last it will have ripened in a summer yet to come, will taste on account of winter all the sweeter.


Anonymous Jerry Hingle said...

Very nice post. I didn't know that peaches needed to be chilled. I suppose it is worth the wait!

8/30/2012 4:51 PM  

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