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This is just to say…

Munching a plum on the street…

Apparently wcw liked plums. I do, too. They’re one of the few fruits you can get at the grocery that don’t seem to suffer too badly from having been picked before prime ripeness and shipped halfway across the country. Of course plums are best directly off the tree, hot from the sun; just check for bugs and bird-poop and eat. Still, a grocery store plum isn’t half the disappointment that a grocery-store apricot is. Once you have had truly fresh apricots, there is no going back. I got spoiled that one summer 15 years ago, at my grandparents’ old house in San Jose with the two apricot trees in the backyard. I swear my sister and my cousin Jennifer and I ate so many apricots we should have turned orange and fuzzy.

Anyhow, I was just eating some plums at my desk here at work. Red plums, juicy, fragrant, and only a little tart at the seed. I had two and I think I could have eaten three more. I had some tart, heart-shaped green Asian plums yesterday, which were crispy and sweet-and-sour and a nice change of pace. I have some big, mellow, purple-black plums at home that I can’t bring to work, because they would get squashed. My grandma had an Italian prune-plum tree in her backyard, and we used to nosh on those, too, when they were ripe. We weren’t there late enough in the summer the year of my aunt and uncle’s wedding to get any plums, just apricots and loquats, filched from the loquat hedge separating my grandparents’ yard and the yard of their next-door neighbors.

Whenever I mention loquats, nobody ever seems to know what I am talking about, but they are divine. They’re about the size of a golf ball, lemon yellow, and taste significantly like juicy-fruit gum. There are four or five big, lima-bean-shaped seeds in a loquat, so there’s not much eatin’ on a loquat, but what there is to eat is pretty good.

My mom’s got a volunteer sand-plum tree in her yard. My sister and I were eating wild plums on the swingset and spitting seeds wherever, and one of them sprouted and took root. Her little plum tree has been bearing fruit for a good 10 years now, and it gets so heavily laden that the branches must be braced up to keep them from cracking and breaking. Sand-plums are an acquired taste. Their magenta skin and the fruit near the seed are painfully sour, and the fruit itself has a strange flavor, like a cross between honey and a plum brandy. They make a very rich and satisfying jam, however, with sufficient sugar. We used to eat them because they grow wild along the river, and Audrey and I, as kids, were big into eating whatever we could forage. Even if it didn’t taste very good, if we could find it growing, and knew it wasn’t poisonous, we would eat it. This meant we snacked Manzanita berries out on the mountain where our grandparents’ new house is and rosehips off the wild rosebushes at home. Manzanita berries are kind of sticky, slightly sweet, and gritty. Rosehips are largely seed, with a fuzzy, throat-irritating pith between the thin layer of waxy fruit and the bundle of seeds. Nonetheless, the unpalatability of much of our outdoor fare hardly dulled the fun of foraging.

I forage in my garden now; mostly cherry tomatoes and the few strawberries my first-season everbearing plants are putting out. Next year I will plant radishes and carrots and peas for grazing on and more green beans, in a sunnier location. I think next year I will undertake the project of busting up the concrete leftover from an old driveway so I can expand the garden northwards. I may begin on that this fall. We shall see.

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