Monday, July 7, 2014

BIKERS AND PEACHES

Jasper GA bike show
Due to a mix-up in reservations, a trip we had scheduled for the Mississippi Gulf coast for the 4th of July cancelled out, and we improvised for the holiday by meandering over to north Georgia.  We landed in Jasper, Georgia again and made plans to search for more peaches from the orchards near Ellijay.

After checking into the Woodbridge Inn the evening of the 5th, we walked to downtown Jasper, drawn by the vroom of motorcycles and a band playing on Main Street. Turns out that a Downtown Bike Show, sponsored by the American Legion, was in progress, and an array of vintage bikes were lined up in the center of the street—beautiful, gleaming bikes whose riders were also vintage, probably between the ages of 50-70 and sporting the "costume" of that era, complete with Willie Nelson headband. Of particular interest to me was a WWII, olive-green bike that Harley Davidson had built for military use during the "Great War." It had been restored and was at the head of the line of more contemporary Harleys being judged in the competition for the best looking bike. 

The music for this event, also vintage 60's and 70's, was billed as "jazz," but my ears registered "rock," and when the MC announced that the next event would be a contest for the loudest bike, we quickly exited the scene. People attending the festival amazed me—no one applauded the music (except us), and we were among the few attenders who went over to the bikes and examined them as if we were veteran bikers looking for a new ride.  No one danced in the street; no one tippled beer from Styrofoam cups—the celebration in this culture contrasted sharply with the Cajun celebrations and fais do do events that take place in our second home, "The Berry," aka New Iberia, Louisiana. The following morning, Main Street was pristine—no trace remained of a July 4th week-end celebration featuring bikers and jivey music.

The next day I went over to the Pickens County Library, an imposing building for a town of 3,600, that boasted an impressive sculpture of a boy reading to animals created by the Atlanta sculptor, William Sunderland, whose "Peace on Earth" sculpt won the People's Choice Award and is showcased in the Carter Center Garden in Atlanta. Sunderland studied under Pasquael Martin in Pietrasanta, Italy and has won many accolades for his creation in Carrara marble of sea lions nuzzling each other entitled "First Love."


I spent an hour reading about the agri-tourism business of north Georgia, a subject that fascinates me every time we hunt for peach orchards and farm stores that sell the luscious fruit. According to an article in Georgia Magazine written by Jackie Kennedy, 52% of students enrolled in the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences are female, and their perspective is needed because women in Georgia are interested in farming and farm services – they want to till the land and promote the industry.

North Georgia is big on agri-tourism—from orchards to vineyards—and there's a growing interest in farm fresh foods, U-pick berry farms and apple orchards. Farmers take seriously the stats about the world population growing to nine billion by 2050 and know that a variety of perspectives, including an emphasis on farm fresh food, will be needed to feed the burgeoning population.

Peach orchard near Ellijay, GA
We found a plethora of peaches at the R&A Orchards and Farm Outlet again, but this time, the sweetest variety were of South Carolina origin. We had fresh peaches and goat cheese for dinner one evening while sitting in ladder-back rockers on the deck overlooking Woodridge Inn's garden, and I can feel plans for another trip to north Georgia already forming in my mind…


Photographs by Victoria I. Sullivan 
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