Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peach Picking, Running and Franciscan Spirituality

This morning, we went peach picking. The last time we actually made it to the pick-your-own farm for mid-summer peaches, Princess was an infant, and I made a TON of baby food for her. She had peaches mixed with nearly everything for the next few months.

I love the act of picking our own fruit. I think it's a lot of fun to ride in the wagon and pick the fruit. I love watching the juice dribble down chins and onto t-shirts. I love the smell of fresh fruit ripening on the 30 minute ride home in the van.

But I never know what to do with all the peaches. The strawberries always get eaten before they can go bad. The apples last a long time in the fridge, and I am always good for a few batches of crock-pot applesauce, which we freeze and eat mid-winter. (YUM!) But peaches are a struggle for me. They aren't ripe enough to eat just yet, and we have a whole huge box of them. Already, I've made two loaves of peach bread and a peach tart. I downloaded a few recipes for peach jam and I may try my hand at that in the next week. We'll see how quickly they get used up. If you have a favorite peach recipe, please let me know!

Before we left for the farm, I got a really good run in. I was feeling so good at the 2 mile mark that I kept going for another quarter-mile, even though that wasn't on my training schedule until next week. I stretched afterwards, but not long enough before getting in the car for 30 minutes. By the time we got to the farm, my legs had completely stiffened up. It wasn't until late afternoon, when I could give them a really good, long stretch (and some ibuprofen), that I felt the muscles begin to relax. Interesting... at least to me. I can feel myself hitting little training plateaus, where something that was hard no longer is, and each subsequent step (whether in speed, time or distance) comes with its own physical learning curve.

After we picked peaches, we stopped at the shrine ten miles from the farm for lunch and some time in the playground. Lunch was, as usual, awesome... just a soup and salad buffet, but the soups are homemade and just about the most delicious soups ever made. There was a creamy carrot-dill soup that all three kids ate up - two bowls each! LilBro (the picky eater) proclaimed "Carrot soup is THE BEST!" I asked the waitress to pass LilBro's praise along to the chef, and the waitress asked if we wanted a quart to take home. Why, yes, we certainly did. So, we had more carrot-dill soup for dinner, and DH plans to search out the recipe.

Before we left the shrine, we stopped at the Lourdes Grotto. We prayed a bit, the kids wandered, we talked about St Bernadette and her visions of the Blessed Mother. Before leaving, we gathered together to pray once more. Princess has taken to praying with her arms open, palms up, in a style reminiscent of the Franciscans. Influenced by the Franciscan sisters in our parish, by her Secular Franciscan Grammy, or by some prompting of her own heart, I do not know. But her prayer posture is sincere and respectful, and she takes prayer time seriously. I watched her as we prayed. There's something real there. I've written about it before, but it bears repeating: Princess is a deeply spiritual person. I look to my five year old as a living example of the trust and faith I so want to have in the Lord.

As we carried the box of peaches into the house this afternoon, Princess exclaimed, "This was a really good day!" I wholeheartedly agree.

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