Dad had severe back pain in June and part of the treatment has been physical therapy for him in a swimming pool. The practice treating him has a deal with the health club where we belong to use one of their pools, so I go work out on one of the elliptical machines while Dad is exercising.
Today (Friday) Dad had PT at the pool and it was the kind of sparkling clear weather in the high 80’s that is typical of Maryland in late July and August. Since neither one of us gets out very much, and Dad goes out less than I do, after Dad’s therapy session we sat by the pool at a table in the shade of an umbrella and just enjoyed being out among people in the fresh air for a couple of hours.
Instead of driving straight home, since it was cool enough — the air conditioning in my car isn’t working so rides with Dad in the car have to be short to keep him from overheating — I decided to see if the farm in Forest Hill where we used to buy Raritan Rose peaches still has a produce stand. Harford county is heaven in the summer because the mimosas are in bloom (their pink flowers have an ethereally sweet scent and look other-worldly), crabs are in season and fresh fruits and vegetables are ripe. This is when we feast on peaches, tomatoes, corn, cantaloupe, watermelon and patty pans squashes.
The peaches I love the most are a white-fleshed variety with an intense rose blush, scent and flavor called Raritan Rose. My problem is that I can’t find farm produce stands that label the varieties of peaches they sell. I learned to treasure knowing the names of varieties of fruits and vegetables in college when I went to the farmer’s market in Ann Arbor every week. Michigan has lots of apple orchards and the farmers would show the names of their apples and give wedges as samples. My favorites then were Paula Red and Ida Red. Nowadays I don’t hold with eating an heirloom tomato unless we have been properly introduced and I know its name, pretty much because I would be very frustrated if I liked it and didn’t know its name and therefore couldn’t grow it myself.
I got a bit lost but it was such a lovely day in the rolling fields that we were in no hurry and I stopped at the produce stands we came across. One knew their yellow peaches were Red Havens, but did not know the name of the white peaches — I bought them on spec anyway.
Our final destination was the produce stand on Rt. 22 for Lohr’s Orchard, because they sell peach seconds by the peck and half bushel. The seconds were all yellow peaches — probably Red Haven — and I bought a half bushel along with some unknown white peaches, blueberries, plums and corn. I meant to buy green tomatoes, but forgot.
We had an hour at home for Dad to change so we could go to see our local minor league baseball team, the Ironbirds. We had sandwiches for dinner and arrived at Ripken Stadium after the game had started. (Due to Dad’s low-sodium diet, there’s hardly anything at the stadium that he can eat so we had to eat at home — although tonight I discovered a new treat there and bought him a pint of french vanilla Turkey Hill ice cream.)
The Ironbirds played the Brooklyn Cyclones and got trounced, 11-3. Sigh. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful and intimate stadium, and again, we were out and about, in glorious weather, so it was fun just to be there. Plus, we began to chat with a woman in our row and, glory hallelujah!, she knew the name of the farm in Delta, Pennsylvania, that is probably the supplier for some of the produce stands I visited — Susquehanna Orchards, WHICH TELLS YOU THE NAMES OF THE VARIETIES OF PEACHES THEY SELL. So we are DEFINITELY going to pay them a call next week.
On the way home, I asked Dad how his day was, and he answered, “I’m very happy in my old age.”