The Peach State of Mind, first no more - Bob Paslay

OK what do you hate more than anything in the world, well almost more than anything in the world? That is some interloper coming into your city, state and telling what's wrong with it, bragging about "back home."

I once had a baseball cap that said: "Beautify the South. Put a Yankee on a bus." Yeah, yeah, yeah ? we know 5 inches of snow doesn't shut down your city.

So as a South Carolinian, born and bred, I have resisted the temptation to comment on Georgia and the way things are done.

But with my blender ready to crank up and with peach cobbler adorning every menu of every meat-and-three restaurant, I can hold back no longer.

Georgia is not the peach state, South Carolina is. We produce more peaches than you do. Some big counties in my state produce more peaches than the whole state of Georgia. Georgia is in fact third in peach production.

Sure Georgia rightly earned the title of Peach State years ago just as Babe Ruth was the homerun king, but things change. So now Georgia is the Peach State of Mind.

And yes, you do produce some absolutely beautiful peaches. In my mind, there is nothing more perfect than a peach. Peaches and cream. Peach cobbler with a slab of vanilla ice cream melting on it. Peach ice cream with big chunks of peaches in them. A juicy peeled peach with the juice running down your chin. And yes, peach daiquiris, smooth and refreshing.

But remember, we in South Carolina still have the peachoid, a monster water tower along Interstate 85 in Cherokee County that is a giant peach (some think it looks more like a giant rear end).

Metro Atlanta for what I can tell has succeeded in just about wiping out most farmland with concrete and high-rises and so you may not be ready to slug me over the peach debate.

For you uninitiated, here are a few Georgia peach facts:

? Fresh Georgia peaches are available only 16 weeks from mid-May to August.

? Growers in the state produce more than 40 commercial peach varieties.

? Georgia has two main growing regions. About 83 percent of the peaches are produced in the central region of the state while the remaining 17 percent are grown in the southern region.

? Peaches were first grown in Georgia during the colonial period.

? Growers were able after the Civil War to develop several hardy peaches, which boosted the industry. The first peach grown in Georgia was the Elberta. Its spectacular size, color and quality made it highly successful when peaches were shipped north.

? There are two general types of peaches n freestone that easily breaks from the pit or stone and clingstone which adheres to the pit.

? If you want to keep a peach from darkening after slicing, sprinkle it with lemon juice or ascorbic acid powder.

? To peel a peach, dip it into boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately in cold water and the peel should slide off easily.

All right, enough about peaches. Get out there and start eating.

But now that I have crossed that dreaded line and started commenting on my state versus your state, let me say one thing about metro Atlanta drivers and then I will stop.

What's with the cars creeping toward the side of your car as you drive by, almost as if they aren't going to stop?

Finally, I have learned to deal with it, although I don't think I will ever accept it or do it.

At first I would just swerve to the left instinctively, thinking the person was drunk or not paying attention and was about to T-bone me.

If you slowed down one degree, I have a sneaky suspicion the driver coming at you will clip the back of your car. I am used to a tradition in which you come to the end of the parking lot and stop. When the cars on the street have gone by you pull out. Not here. The most drivers do is slow down at the end of the parking lot, stopping only at the last moment if needed.

Is traffic that bad, are we in that big a hurry in metro Atlanta that people can't stop? Or is this just some technique unique to this area. Whatever the answer, I don't like it. And in Atlanta, lanes are almost like suggested areas that you stay in if you feel like it. You have to drive like those planes that fly in close formation in air shows, pulling into the oncoming lane slightly if the car next to you decides to yawn and stretch over to your lane. OK, Georgia has so many nice things, including its people, that I have gotten my two gripes out of my system. So you can put away that baseball cap that says: "Beautify Georgia. Put a South Carolinian on a bus."

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or bpaslay@news-daily.com