Saturday, June 06, 2009

Plum awful!

In March 1983, my neighbor's son-in-law, the owner of a peach orchard and the holder of a doctoral degree in (I think) agricultural economics, planted two Texas-approved Morris plum trees for us. One went in a sunny spot by the driveway, in full view of God and everyone. This one, he graciously kept pruned for us as an orchard plum through at least half of its life. The other was hidden behind our north-facing garage and allowed to grow at will. When it died, seemingly of a frigid winter when the cold air "stacked up" behind the garage, it was nearly twenty feet tall.

They were both good producers of plums. Having the crop cut in half with the death of one did not bother me; plums are not my favorite fruit to eat out of hand. I do love to make jelly from them however and they mix delightfully with other fruits I may be putting by in a jar.

Over the course of its life, our surviving plum has met with several disasters: we backed a trailer into it; the house next door caught fire and scorched its fingertips; the hackberry beside it blew over in a thunderstorm and, in pushing it out of the street, the city crews pushed down the fence which had no where else to go except into our plum. Its trunk is twisted in a most artistic way and its branches are now mis-shapen and all over each other. Last year it bore no fruit whatsoever, instead deciding to leak sap and appear on its last roots. This year, it is loaded with fruit, some branches touching the ground.

This is one stubborn plum tree. I think it hates me and is determined to gasp along and surprise me at every turn. As I will not be outdone, I set out to harvest this morning. Of course, the birds have beaten me to the punch and placed a neat little beak-shaped jab in at least 1 out of every 4 plums. And then the tree (on second thought I know it hates me) has put all its biggest plums in its top branches. There they hang, way out of reach unless I get a ladder or get brave and climb it.

Sneaky tree, thinking to lure me up where it can break and toss me to the ground. No way. If I could only point the birds to the top, then we could all be happy: me, the birds, and the tree.

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