The rains have arrived, and we are scrambling down in the garden, picking fruit and vegetables, drying some, using some, blanching and freezing some, and giving them away to friends and neighbors. I remember as a child getting sick of fruit. Sick of too much of this or that, so much so that I could give up the very sight of persimmons, quince, figs, grapes...
I don't feel that way anymore. I still hope for each tree, each bush, to give me an abundant harvest, year after year, so the house smells of that fruit for weeks on end, so the kitchen has scattered bowls and implements to accept the challenge of preserving the bounty.
These apples have no name. There are no others like these in the local supermarket. They taste a bit like Fuji, or Gala, more tart. In the orchard, there are four different apple trees, and two pear trees. The apples produce yearly, more or less equally. The pears, one attempts to produce half a dozen a year, asian pears by the look, and Bosch by taste; the other goes into ebullient production every third year, and attracts a host of blackbirds and raccoon by harvest time. This year, we stripped it naked very early, gave the fruit away to the local pantry, and used some for pear cakes and for drying.
We actually planted persimmons, figs and grapes when we first moved here. Only the fig is thriving, and this year it has over a dozen figs coming to maturity, and hopefully all will ripen before a cold snap cuts their lives short.
All this bounty surrounds us with good will, a true miracle of nature, odors and taste perfuming the house for weeks, hard work for our weak muscles, thankful at the end of such days.
What's left is to prune the trees while they are still with leaves! The idea is to see the full tree in all its splendor, and then figure how best to eliminate redundant branches that make it too heavy one way or another. Our plan is to go down on sunny days-if we still get a few between now and the next storm-and begin trimming away. The cut branches can be stored, or stuck in the ground to create another tree!
We ask ourselves as we work day in and day out with all our might: How did we forgo this work, work that is not predictably rewarding, for work that was extremely stressful, but the paycheck was predictable, (unless a global recession sucks up all resources, including your job!) with few opportunities for all our senses to be stimulated, so we could purchase food that has very predictable taste and looks, so we could then add an additional hour a day at a gym to stimulate the muscle mass that didn't get stimulated by our work, distressed in ways we couldn't imagine; so that we could hand our hard earned money to a bank to invest in some made-up scheme for a made-up product that bet against our homes, our jobs, our health, our future.
All the bounty on earth should be lessons in living, to young and old, to protect our diverse food, to invest in real products, to make all work as rewarding and as necessary to all our happiness as raising food was and it can still be.
Perhaps I'm a dreamer.
Yet, as I sit here after forty plus years of hard work, where the blood pressure was out of bounds, where we had no choice but continue to remain in those jobs until we could escape, we ask ourselves if we stopped dreaming too soon. There must have been new ways to make a living.
There must be new ways to stay connected to the source of our inner peace.