Thursday, July 9, 2009
The Story of Generous Georgia
Deep in the heart of the Idaho Pan Handle lies Generous Georgia’s Organic Cherry Orchard. Generous Georgia is no ordinary woman. On the contrary, Generous Georgia has lived her life well despite incredible adversity. When she was a very young woman, she moved to the mountainous back country with her husband to live off the land. They bought 60 acres and lived without electricity and running water. When her husband left her with 3 small boys to raise, she didn’t give up the land. She gritted her teeth and got things done. Through harsh mountain winters, she worked hard to keep her home warm cutting and hauling wood. Rather than choosing Public Assistance, she worked 5 jobs at one time trying to support her children. Despite all this, in her early years on the land, she managed to begin planting an orchard. As the years went by, she put herself through college and became a nurse. She successfully raised her boys. She even became very active in giving to the community through work with the local ambulance service. These are only a few of the things that I know about her. I’m sure there are many more.
When we came upon her property, we were all awed to see what this lone woman had done. Perfectly groomed, manicured trees bowed down heavily with shiny plump cherries, the dirt around them, rich and deep. Every thing about her property spoke volumes about her character. It was well thought out. If something didn’t work the way she wanted it to, she just manufactured what she needed. Her ingenuity astounded me. Even while she was with us, she never quit thinking of ways that would make things easier for the process. We were all continually amazed at how “putting her hand to the plow” had made such an incredible manicured property. She had even run it for the first 20 years generating her own electricity. Her mind never rests, and she is continually dreaming of new ideas to undertake.
We started out with a short orientation of cherry picking. Then we picked for several hours. Some how I managed to get my hair and Moonbeams hair sticky from “sticky traps” that circle the tree trunks. They also dangle in balls off of the trees. By mid-afternoon, it was time to sort and clean the cherries. Georgia also helped us construct a tarp awning over our campsite and we ate a quick lunch.
After that, we soaked the cherries and sorted them. Then we took the cherries to her commercial cherry pitter where they were pitted, weighed and later bagged. She put hers in driers for dehydration. It was a long day, but the kids had a really good time. They filled their little bellies with the sweet, delicious fruit.
When all the work was finished we decided to walk down one of the groomed trails to her private lake. The boys were already there fishing. At first it was great fun to explore her property trails back in those woods. After a while, we began to get a little bit turned around. Fearlessly, I charged on thinking the trails could only go so far. We even tried taking a short cut down a steep hill only to climb back up it again. By this time the children were all dropping like flies and had to be carried. Cat man was the "last man standing". I asked him to carry me, but he politely refused. Eventually, we back tracked all the way back and found that if we had only gone a little further we would have been a short distance away from where we’d begun. Exhausted and full of sticky goo, I collapsed into the back of my Suburban. The boys showed up with a whole mess of fish to cook. That night, the children roasted marshmallows over a camp fire. Georgia graciously loaned me a hot shower. I almost felt guilty for the luxury, but decided I was enjoying it too much to feel guilty. Then we all slept like logs.
In the morning we picked some fresh cherries to take home, some strawberries, and garbage bags full of rhubarb. It was an incredible experience that none of us would soon forget.