"Movin' to the country / Gonna eat a lot of peaches" - The Presidents of the United States of America
Three years and three months. That's all it took for me to venture out of my house on a Saturday morning for a trip to the Steamboat Springs Farmer's Market.
Okay, that's not all it took. It also took peaches. Lots and lots of peaches. Peaches grown in Palisade, Colorado, where there are acres and acres of peach orchards and vineyards. The perfect climate, an average of 78 percent sunshine, and a 182-day growing season. (I can't even imagine.) People around here wait all year for Palisade peaches. I have completely jumped on the bandwagon. If you are from Texas, it's a little like getting fresh-picked Fredricksburg peaches, only more so. There is an absolute feeding frenzy over these fruits.
I hadn't gone to the Farmer's Market before now, because one of the Palisade orchard owners had set up a roadside stand on the outskirts of town every weekend. I have bought peaches from him every late summer since we moved here. He is just known to us now as "The Peach Man". I noticed this summer that I never saw The Peach Man and his little stand and travel trailer and two big plywood cut-out painted peaches on the side of the road, and I started to get really bummed out. No peach pies? No peach crisps? No, (gulp), peach jam to eat in the winter while I wait for next peach season?! I found some local Colorado peaches at the grocery store, but they just weren't the same. Then three weekends ago, John surprised me and came home with three pounds of bonafide Palisade peaches from The Peach Man for me! (He found out that The Peach Man had changed his schedule and could be found at the Farmer's Market every weekend.) I am not embarrassed to say that I squealed and giggled and hugged and twirled over those peaches. Better than flowers!
Once those peaches were inhaled eaten, I wanted more for jam. This is how it happened that Emma and I found ourselves at the Farmer's Market a couple of weekends ago on the hunt for The Peach Man. Oh, we had fun. Wild smoked salmon, buffalo meat, local honey, pastries, crepes, kettle corn. Geodes, beads, jewelry, handmade soaps made from rendered bear fat (!), lotions and creams. A live 3-piece band playing Hank Williams. A chili cook-off. Owls and cows. The craziest site of the day was the cow pen, the location of the cow patty contest. Which ever cow delivered the goods first, won. The winner took home a $1,000 cash prize.
By far, the busiest booth belonged to The Peach Man of Davis Family Farms. I've had other Palisade peaches, but none as sweet and juicy and good as those from the Davis' farm. Everywhere I looked, people were carrying bags of peaches. I loaded up with close to four pounds, and then returned the following weekend with all the kids for more. (Hey, I like peaches. And this only happens once a year.) I think next year I will make jam with the red plums, too. Or maybe pear butter with the pears. The Peach Man said he will come in June next summer with the early-season peaches, cherries, and apricots. I will go early and often.
My other favorite booth was a beautiful display of dozens and dozen of colorful hand-woven baskets and fans. I met the ti-a basket booth owner and found that these works of art were made by precious women in Ghana, Africa. These women are able to provide for their families by weaving these baskets, and are able to teach their skills to women in surrounding villages to help them grow financially as well. What an amazing gift this sweet woman is giving to other women. I chose one woven with blue and carried my peaches home.
Now, the air is brisk. The leaves are gold. The mornings are frosty. The anticipation is high...snow is coming. The vendors have taken down their booths. The market is closed for another year. But I'm okay with that. I have jam.
You can find information about ti-a baskets at ti-a.com.