Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer Fruits [CCR]

We are now in the peak of summer and I am in the peak of panic over preparing for my move. The boys helped me clean out around the blueberries, which happen to be fully ripe now. Maybe those berries helped peak their interest in the job. Unfortunately we don’t have the blackberries here in Ohio like we have back home in Alabama. Dad tells me of his blackberry picking stories and I can only look forward to next year.

The roads back home I know are covered in blackberries right now. But my favorite reminiscence is the wild plums. I can remember riding my bicycle up and down Moody Lane and finding a wide selection of luscious sweet plums. You always looked for the plums almost ready to fall off the bush as they were the sweetest. Mom wanted us to pick them for making jelly. But the temptation to immediately partake of the plums overcame the desire for canning in most cases.

Today you can ride the roads of Colbert County and not find any wild plums, at least according to my observations during my trips back home. A few years ago I actually published my thoughts on this problem in some poetry. While poetic the reflection is more melancholy than exhilarating. I can only assume our modern chemicals have eliminated this bounty from the Alabama roadside.

Another summer delicacy were the grapes growing on the vines in our lower yard. Dad had planted three varieties when I was a small child. In my early years you would often find me standing in an old plastic chair picking the sun ripened green grapes, the best in my view. Mom thought the grapes, like the plums, should be preserved for canning. Yet these glistening morsels of fruit were even less likely to survive the trip to the kitchen for canning than the plums.

As you probably already know there is no way I could eat them all and most of the fruit made it to the canning process. As the year waned with the fruit supply so did the amount left for canning until any useful fruit could not be found. Then the cycle began again and I waited another year.

Just as the plums disappeared so have the grapes. The grapevines grew old and withered. Dad planted more grapes but they never really replaced those original vines that spent the growing years with me. One of the first priorities for my new Tennessee home will be the planting of grape vines in memory of those great years. I would plant the commercial plums but they just don’t taste the same as the wild ones I remember. Maybe my memory has dulled.

When I get back home I’m going to take another stroll down Moody Lane. I keep thinking one day I’ll find a remnant of those wild plums. You’ll know if I do. I’ll be standing there without a bucket, parsing through the bush and stealing those juicy morsels just about to drop on the ground. If you hurry I might even share a few with you.