Thanks so much for the fine article by Dennis Hoey, “Do I dare to plant a peach?” in the Jan. 29 Maine Sunday Telegram.

As a weekend orchardist and gardener, I have certainly experienced changes in the climate since 1978, when I moved to Maine from Virginia. Last frosts in the spring come much earlier and first frosts in the fall much later, I remember often calling neighbors for a “tomato alert” in early October. Now killing frosts can come the middle or end of October.

I loved the title concerning growing peaches in Maine. At our place in Cushing, my father-in-law, Lars Anderson, planted a peach tree in the mid-’70s. We do not know the origin of the tree, but it produced delicious peaches year after year. At its height, it produced three bushels a season. When the tree began to age and “play out,” I contacted John Bunker of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association about the possibility of propagating the tree.

Propagating peach trees is not easy. After three years, MOFGA was able to complete the process and now offers the tree in its catalog (unfortunately, all of the trees are sold out for 2012, but will be available again next year). We were so proud of the tree that we named it the “Lars Anderson” peach. I now have five in my Cushing orchard and have given many away to friends and family. The “children” of the original are just as plentiful.

Having had such success with this tree, I have also planted two other varieties, “Garnet Beauty” and “Reliance.” They are also thriving.

As a transplant from the South, I know peaches and can say that peaches grown in Maine can be just as delicious as those I knew as a boy.

C. Waite Maclin

Pastor Chuck Orchards

Cushing and Portland

Senators should fight to save mercury limits

It seems that in promoting environmental standards to protect our health, the process is always two steps forward, one step back.

This past December, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a historic ruling that will limit mercury pollution from power plants by 90 percent. As power plants are the largest source of airborne mercury pollution, this single ruling will save up to 11,000 lives annually by lessening the toxins that are particularly damaging to developing brains and nervous systems.

Despite these facts, however, the EPA’s legislation is already facing attacks in Congress by polluters who want to protect their own interests over the public’s health. While it is important to celebrate the EPA’s decision, it is equally important to resist its attackers.

Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe should support the EPA’s mercury ruling in the Senate.

Katherine Doyle

Environment Maine

Portland

Same-sex marriage hasn’t caused harm elsewhere

Same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts almost seven years ago. Despite the dire predictions of cultural decay, Massachusetts still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation.

I am sure many people know someone in Massachusetts. Ask them how being married in Massachusetts has been affected by same-sex marriage. Ask them if they know people whose marriages have been affected by the right to marry someone of the same gender. Remarkably, nobody has proposed legalizing polygamy or inter-species marriage either, despite the claims that same-sex marriage would inevitably lead that way.

If it hasn’t caused society to fall apart in seven years, I think it’s pretty safe to say that for most people, it’s not a problem. It won’t be a problem here, either, for most people. And for those for whom it is a problem, I recommend this passage from Scripture: Deuteronomy 22, verses 13-21. Then tell me we should follow Scripture on this subject.

Everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs. Don’t marry someone if you don’t want to. But don’t prevent others from making that commitment.

Robert R. O’Brien

Peaks Island

Don’t blame the poor for state budget problems

I agree that the governor and Legislature need to find another way to solve the Medicaid budget gap besides removing people from the program and drastically cutting services.

But the greater evil in all of this are the fundamental changes conservatives want to make to our social safety net, and especially their strategy for doing so. The governor and legislators are at the axis of the issue, but they were put there by the people. And the people were well prepared to elect them by years of demonizing the poor and anyone on an assistance program.

Comments like “food stamp president,” “looking for a free lunch,” “cheats,” “lazy people” and the like only promote the falsehood that everyone receiving state assistance of any kind is unworthy or less than human. In truth these recipients are mostly good people who haven’t been able to keep pace with ever increasing prices, the elderly who worked a full life, the disabled who never asked to be born with their conditions, and those who have lost jobs.

The Heritage Foundation and their associated spin groups need to be called out on these misnomers about people receiving benefits.

And we all need to take a deep breath and realize that condemning people because they have no other choice but to ask for help is wrong and these fellow citizens are human beings and as worthy as we are in the eyes of our creator.

Howard Hanson

Biddeford