May Days and Apple Blossoms
With the early planting done and the horseradish sealed in jelly jars, Dad was at ease. Along with all that is required for an early garden, he had managed to put some trout in the freezer, and there were still many that needed to be hooked.
Dad and Mom regularly checked the garden to see how things were "coming up". By May onions, radish, lettuce, all became visible in their straight rows. Green growth appeared everywhere. An occasional tender potato leaf pushed through the soft, fertile soil. My parents had successfully started another early spring garden. Dad, now free to do more fishing, weather at Laurel Lake for trout, the Susquehanna for catfish, or the Chain Bridge in Washington D.C. for herring, enjoyed the free time.
They also reflected on what staples needed to be put in the ground after the frost free date; That date usually came the week after Mother's Day. A late crop of potatoes needed planting, along with string beans, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, beets and tomatoes-lots of tomatoes. In a few weeks a flurry of planting took place to round out the garden planting needs for the upcoming year.
Along with all this came the absolute beauty of south-central Pennsylvania. It was awaking from a long winter's nap. There is nothing, absolutely nothingthat can compare to what I experienced as a ten year old in the middle of tens of thousands of fruit trees. Apple, peach, cherry, all revealed the most beauty. The most spectacular being peach and apple.
Adams County is still one of the leading producers of fruit in our country. If you are familiar with this part of the country, you realize that the farm roads, back roads, or whatever you are comfortable with, wind, turn, twist and curve. Then there is the up, down and so on and so on. It is just breath taking to follow one of these roads. Sunday afternoons, usually the last week of April and the first week of May are the absolute best. Follow me on a trip from Route 15 to Route 94 via mountain Road. Dad is driving. I'm not old enough.
This route takes us west through one of those famous twisty roads where at a minutes' notice, we no longer were going west but north. Eventually it twisted back. Along the way were redbuds, forsythia, Bartlett pear and tulip trees. The best lie ahead. Before intersecting with Route 94 we crested a steep hill. Upon arriving at the top, we knew what to expect. The steep hill naturally had a steep decline and wandered into a wide valley. In this valley there were no less than ten thousand trees of assorted sizes, shapes and colors. We stopped; All who ascend this hill do. The sights were absolutely gorgeous. A sea of pink and white as far as the eye could see. No one spoke, we just took it all in. Most spectacular were the white and pink apple blossoms. The darker pink of the peach blossoms intertwined made for a most spectacular sight.
Dad eventually started down the hill to route 94, we crossed and made our way home along the gravely, dusty Torway Road. Adams County had many such roads for our viewing pleasure, and it didn't cost a nickel. Visitors are more than welcome.
Living in rural St. Anne, Illinois since 2008 I am again re-living those wonderful early years in Pennsylvania. Recently, as someone mowed their lawn, wild onions or wild garlic (whatever name you like to use) were cut and that intoxicating aroma filtered through the house. In an instant I was back in Pennsylvania.
We lived in a Paradise and I never knew it.