With summer winding down, and September and school looming large, my parents and I retreated to Shelter Island for a final weekend by the ocean. We crashed the private beach of a swanky resort, and within moments were basking in the guazy glow of opulence and indolence all around us--without spending $420 a night! We dug our beach chairs into the sand and concentrated hard on enjoying our last 48 hours of freedom. For Dad, that meant making sure every inch of his bare flesh was covered with clothing, then inserting earbuds into his ears and staring vacantly at the seagulls. Mom wasted no time slipping into an unresponsive stupor while the backs of her legs fried. I consumed books whole chapters at a time, pausing every so often to watch the visible annoyance on the faces of the legitimate hotel guests as the wind flapped their swanky umbrellas. It was glorious.
On the drive home, we approached Wickham's Fruit Farm, and looking to prolong our mini vacation, we stopped to pick our own peaches. They were heavy on the trees, thick on the ground, and warm in our hands. We were hungry, so we ate as we filled our bushel baskets with the tangy, yellow-fleshed variety, as well as the sweeter white ones. We finished our feast with crisp, yeasty, cinnamon sugar donuts straight from the fryer into white paper bags--the best I've ever eaten. When I got home, I made peach preserves from the recipe on the back of the Sure-Jell box. It was my first attempt at preserving, and it was throroughly gratifying to see the peaches transformed into adorable little jars of jam on my shelves. Whether the jam was fit for human consumption was another story.
Mid-November, I pried open a jar, and encouraged by the strong sucking sound as the cap came off, proceeded to make Jam Crumb Cake (at Epicurious) for the church coffee hour. Beneath a layer of cinnamony crumbs, the jam tasted almost as sweet as those remaining days of summer--and the church members lived to see another Sunday.