Airplanes and peaches
“One day is just like another when you’re retired and it’s too hot to do anything outside.” Dave speaks from the couch, where he reads between naps. His daily outing is Driving Miss Sallie to work out at Curves, by golf cart.
So when he said he wanted to drive to a small airport about 25 miles south, I felt obliged to keep him company. After all, it was Saturday and I was tweaking the column I had started, due Friday. I was practically done. I could afford to take a break.
We headed down to a grass strip airport in Williamson, Ga., where there used to be sail planes, now relocated in north Atlanta somewhere. (“They are sail planes, not gliders,” Dave admonishes. OK.) He used to drive down on a pretty weekend and take rides.
Today Peach State Airport is on the way to becoming a bigger operation. No sail planes, but several really stunning small airplanes are on display, along with several pristine vintage autos – inside a large multi-purpose hanger.
In the entrance several people are standing around the ticket counter. That they were department store mannequins wearing 1920s styles did not keep me from saying “Excuse me” when I brushed against one of them.
The air conditioning was barely able to keep the space comfortable on another mid-90 degrees weekend. About a dozen elegantly set tables were awaiting a wedding party.
The Barnstormer’s Grill gets rave reviews online, but we passed on it. We just wanted a bite of lunch and the grill’s white tablecloths looked pricey.
We realized we were only a short drive from Hollonville, where we used to take the girls to pick peaches. And guess what? It’s peak peach season.
Gregg Orchards is a family-run farm whose main clients have included the Gerber baby food company. Still, they have acres of peach trees which begin producing fruit in late June and continue through August, different strains at different times, and plenty of room to let customers pick their own.
Every year when we have an unusually cold spring, one of us will ask the other, “Have the peach blossoms been damaged?” and when we’re in a drought, “I hope they’ve had rain in Hollonville.”
This appears to be a year when everything went right. The crop is in, and it is abundant. We hadn’t been to the orchard for several years and were surprised to see the changes. The produce stand used to be between the orchard and the road, and we parked wherever we could. The Greggs lent us a bucket or a peach basket while we picked our own and then transferred them to our bags or boxes.
We’d take home more peaches than we could use, and gave them away to friends and neighbors.
Some time during the last couple of years, the Greggs built a small shed with a large roofed space next to it, and plenty of organized parking. They’ve also provided a shady spot under what looks like a water tank with an assortment of lawn chairs and rocking chairs under it. Most of them were filled with folks, rocking and visiting and licking ice cream cones. The
Greggs have added soft peach ice cream, and no one seemed in a hurry to leave.
We decided this year to buy peaches that were already picked, and slurped our ice cream in the car. It was such a mellow way to end the day.
Sorry I didn’t think to share this with you earlier in the season, but there are still a few weeks left in peach season. Check hours and availability with a phone call: 770-227-4661 or check their Website at www.greggfarms.com. Drive south on Ga. Highway 74 to Starr’s Mill and jog left, then right on 85 Connector to take you through Brooks and to the county line. When you cross Ga. Highway 16 you’re in Digby in Spalding County. Stay on the connector until you reach Hollonville at Ga. Highway 362, another left, then jog right, and signs will direct you to the new fruit stand.
Did I mention they also have jams and jellies, plus a limited amount of other fruits and veggies? I bought some beautiful tomatoes at a better price than I’ve seen locally, and the Alberta peaches I bought were reasonably priced.
We were delighted to make this drive again and find that the landscape is not too different from how it used to be. There are a few new houses along the way, some attractive churches, and still a few farms. The vistas are peaceful and green.
Dave loves crepe myrtles, lush this year, and he was not disappointed. And see if you can spot one of the 10 most expensive houses in Fayette County; at least it was 10 or 15 years ago when I wrote about it.
The peaches are absolutely perfect, but need to ripen a bit more before I can use them. I know they’ll taste good.
Heck, I’d buy them just for their beauty.