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Small Talk: The spoils of summertime include fruit

Ah, the good old summertime.

Around my house it means leisurely mornings and slow summer evenings, open windows, long days at the beach, Popsicles, barbecues and the annual fruit wars.

Suddenly, it seems, just as I am beginning to relax, my back yard is full of produce. My husband picks it, then heaps buckets and buckets of it on my kitchen table and waits impatiently for me to “do something with it” before it rots. My husband loves this season. It is his link to the rural environment in which he grew up. Needless to say, his mother never made him help with the canning, but it set him up with high expectations of what women do with excess fruit.

First of all, I really don’t care that much for jam. Secondly, I have a tiny freezer. Thirdly, just the idea of standing for hours skinning and pitting mounds and mounds of fruit makes my legs throb. I use some for baking, but remember this is bathing suit weather — hardly the time to load up on cobbler and pie (which, by the way, my kids won’t eat, leaving it all for me).

One year, my children wanted to sell the fruit. They got bored after 10 minutes. I got bored after five minutes. Sales just weren’t brisk enough to make me want to sit out in the hot sun for hours feeling like some character from “The Grapes of Wrath.”

You may be imagining a small orchard in my backyard. Oh no. All this grief stems from one apricot tree, one peach tree and two plum trees. These busy trees insisted on growing in the hideous clay subsurface we are built on. Wet winter or dry, while other plants die all around it, these trees produce enough fruit to open our own Smucker’s outlet. Our trash cans leak so much sticky, fermented fruit juice, I am amazed the trash collectors will even stop here.

I hate to see summer end, but I could really use a good cold snap right about now.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is looking up recipes for plum wine. Contact her at jean@coastnewsgroup.com.

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