Thursday, August 8, 2013

Polishing the Family Jewels

     I have been polishing my jewels today.  First, I buffed my eggs to a pearly shine.  They come from chickens Joe and I picked up together from a hatchery in Harrisonburg.  It is run by an 80 year old man who told us that he will end his poultry production this year.  His children have no interest in continuing the farming tradition and his land is coveted by a developer who is willing to pay a premium for it.   Joe and I have been visiting with him at least once a year for the past eight years.  It makes me sad to think of another family farm disappearing. 
     The eggs also remind me of trips we have taken to the poultry fair.  Hen hawkers of all sizes, shapes and nationalities gather in a large parking lot on the edge of town once every six weeks to talk turkey or duck or chicken and swap and sell their feathered friends.  When we replenish our egg layers, Joe and I often gather the older girls and take them over the mountains to the gravel lot and try to get a couple of dollars for them.  We find that, unless there’s an Indian, Russian or Mexican looking for a good meal, most of them go to backyard producers who seem to have a bit of an avian addiction.  It makes me happy to think of our girls living out the rest of their lives like somebody's family friends.
     After the eggs, I polished the jars of peaches I canned yesterday.  They remind me of the many trips Joe and I have taken to the orchards dotting the northern half of the Shenandoah Valley.  These peaches came from Turkey Knob which is a huge fruit packing operation just past Broadway with warehouses three stories high.  We’ve also bought fruit from a delightful Mennonite family who gave us a taste of the homemade potato chips they were frying in a black iron kettle outside the apple shed and from a small family farm tucked at the foot of North Mountain. Joe and I got lost on the way home and saw some amazing scenery.

     I can’t wear my peaches on my fingers and eggs would look silly dangling from my ears, but  I treasure the memories that they brought as I polished them. What are your jewels?

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