Monday, June 14, 2010

A Plum Sight

The fruit tree gods smiled this spring. And smiled. And then had a good laugh.

Our springs are usually rife with hope and anxiety. It's cold enough in the winter to kill what we hope are a sufficient number of bugs and then it starts to warm up. Everything blooms and then it gets freezing cold and half of the crop, if not all, is frozen away. This particularly affects peaches probably because they are everyone's favorite.

But this spring we didn't have a killing late freeze. We had rain and sun and bloom, bloom, bloom. This worked to my advantage with the little cherry tree which gave over 2 gallons of itty-bitty fruit which I have frozen and will juice into jelly later this summer. It usually takes me 2-3 summers to have enough to do that.

Alas, it also worked to advantage--someone's--with our poor plum tree.

It is an orchard plum, a Morris. It shouldn't still be alive after 27 years, especially given its twisted trunk and wayward limbs. Seeing how much fruit it could potentially bear, and knowing that it would be little in size, we lopped off a few weak branches and shook the tree every time we passed it.

I have never seen it so laden with fruit. One limb has broken and another has bent to the ground. The fruit is little and if I'm not quick to confiscate it, the mockingbirds are sampling or it is rotting on its own. I have 2 gallons of juice in the freezer and the tree is still loaded with fruit.

I have offered to share and been turned down by people whose own plum trees are in similar circumstances. The only advantage to the fruit which falls to the ground is that it feeds a myriad of butterflies.

I wonder if this is the plum tree's swan song, but then, I've thought that before. I don't really even like plums, as a fruit to eat out of hand, so I think it lives on to spite me.

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