Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Cherokee Peach

Hit was washday and I was haulin water from the spring when Levy Johnson come down the mountain. My fire was goin good but I needed me some more water for the rinsin. Levy was on his way to help Daddy with plowin the corn and he was ridin a big sorrel mare, all geared up, but when he saw me he slid down from the mare's back and said, I'll tote them heavy pails for you.

His hair was the color of Mister Tomlin's gold pieces and his face was smooth and put me in mind of the ripe peaches on our red-leaved Cherokee peach tree. I smiled when I thought this for just then the sun broke through the morning mist and I could see the fuzz, same as a peach has, all along Levy's jawbone.

When I wrote that scene in Signs in the Blood, I had this particular peach tree in mind -- red leaves, small pinky-red peaches. I have no idea what the varietal name of our peach tree (which grows down at our pond --not by the cabin) might be. But I know how free and easy my older neighbors were with proper names of plants and it seemed not unlikely that Little Sylvie might have known a red-leaved peach as a Cherokee.

A recent post on the Dorothy L list about authors who don't exercise due diligence in their research got me thinking and I asked Mr. Google about Cherokee peach. Turns out there is one -- but I doubt it's the same.

I also learned that peaches were a very early introduction to the Americas -- probably brought in by the Spaniards -- and they 'went wild' so long ago that many people (myself included) assumed they were native.

Peaches were cultivated by the Native Americans and one of the many sad stories from the Trail of Tears was that the soldiers destroyed the Cherokee orchards to force them away from their land.

But peaches are stubborn and wherever the fruit drops, before long a new tree will spring up. Resilient-- like the Cherokee.

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Carol Murdock said...

This was really informative. I'd never heard of it.
Oh I found the Choclate Pie recipe under "Wisteria & Chocolate".

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, yes, that's a goodie!

Reader Wil said...

I am going to order your books, so I hope to read this passage! Good post.Have a great weekend!

Vicki Lane said...

This is from the historical subplot which takes place in 1901. I hope you'll enjoy the books! If the dialect becomes too puzzling, just email me and ask!

Eliane Zimmermann said...

how lovely those peaches look. our peach tree decided to finally cary two dozens of peaches or so. after maybe five years of becoming used to our place. but they aren't half as big as your and still green and as fall is approaching they probably won't grow any longer, sad.

Vicki Lane said...

Eliane, sad to say, these peaches aren't as big as the photo suggests -- and they have a wicked tendency to go rotten before they ripen.