Wild Plums


Today I had a fabulous Full-Circle moment. I vividly remember a time from when I was about ten years old, in Staten Island, New York, where my grandmother lived. We were on a busy street in a mixed commercial/residential area and all of a sudden my grandmother exclaimed happily that the mulberries were ripe. We set to picking berries off a tree right outside a dentist’s office. I wondered if the dentist wouldn’t mind, was conscious of the traffic going past us and worried about what the car occupants would think. But my grandmother didn’t give any of that a second thought – she was intent on enjoying picking the fruit and not letting it go to waste. Nobody else was interested in the berries. For some reason, I often remember that day, how focused my Sicilian-born grandma was about harvesting the ripe goodness of the season, and I admire her for it.

I have since channeled that focus many a time and gathered my own roadside bounty. Today was one of those days, so similar to my decades-ago experience in Staten Island. But here I am on a very different island, and I was with my niece rather than with my grandmother. Niece-y and I were walking along a very busy road just before 5pm and I spotted some wild plum trees. I’d seen them previously, but this was the first time the fruit looked ripe. So many beautiful little orbs of goodness! They had all been the same pale green color a week ago. Today we found that one tree turned out to have purply-red fruit, and the one right next to it a deep golden yellow. Oh, joy! It’s funny how happy it makes me to collect windfalls and see what I can reach on the trees. I suppose I feel connected to my grandmother, and I, too, hate to let things go to waste.

Some of these honeys will go in to a clafoutis, perhaps, and if I go back and there are enough of them, jam shall be in the future.


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