Around the corner stoplight and across the street I could see it. The makeshift tent. The buckets. The sign "Peaches For Sale - Homegrown in The South"
**Do NOT drive past the peach stand, I said to myself, do NOT ...must avoid must avoid**
Too late. I had no reason to stop and buy a basket of beautiful peaches. Daddy isn't here to give them to. And that is why I didn't want to visit you see.
He would rather have a fresh peach than ten gallons of homemade ice cream. When he was sick I would stop at stands like this on the way to the hospital to buy peaches for him. Then I would
smuggle them in past the nurse's station like a bandit. Contraband. It went something like this, "Good morning, Daddy."
"Hand me one, Sis, before that nurse comes back in here."
And the knife would start to peel.
When I was a little girl we had peach trees, pecan trees, apple trees, watermelon patches, grapevines and the like. There was nothing better than watching daddy churn the wooden ice cream handle on a hot July day as he made a batch of soft spun ice cream. Sometimes he would let me pour the salt down the side ever so carefully, to keep the temperature of the ice below freezing. His hand would be wrapped in a towel which was, in turn, wrapped around the cantankerous handle. We had an old ice cream maker like the one you see below and the handle creaked when he churned. I wish I knew what happened to it. You had to go to a lot of trouble to make ice cream.
You would pack the inside of the metal cylinder with sugar, cream and vanilla. The outside of the container would be crammed tight with ice, which had to be replenished periodically and salt poured on to keep the delicate balance intact. That's where I learned my expert salt-pouring skills. Underneath the ice cream maker was a large pan to catch the melted ice drops. It was archaic and scientific at the same time.
Mama would put the fresh peaches in at just the right time, except a few would always go missing before they landed in the mix. She thought he was churning all the time, but Daddy knew how to balance a peach on his knee with one hand, slice it sliver by sliver with his pocketknife and plop it right into his mouth from the blade of the knife. I never told.
Inside the cylinder were wooden or metal paddles that churned the cream. "Is the ice cream ready, Daddy?" I must have asked a dozen times. He would take the lid off sometimes to check on the thickness. When the handle got hard to turn you knew it was almost ready. Sometimes he would let me dip a large silver spoon - forever dubbed "the ice cream spoon" no matter what else it stirred - down into the cylinder and taste it myself.
It was the most delicious thing ever.
I'm glad I rounded the corner at the stoplight today. I started to remember you see, so unexpectedly. The sight of a roadside peach sale and the smell of those memories. And salt down my cheeks in the middle of a Saturday.
Photographer: Jack Dykinga, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Join us for BlogBlast For Peace Nov 4, 2013