I’ve spent the last few weeks harvesting my garden, buying produce from local growers, and picking fruits from various local “pick-your-own” orchards. In that same time frame I’ve also frozen, canned, and baked much of that produce. It’s a wonderful time of year as I see my cupboards and freezer fill up, thanks to a spring and summer of planting, weeding, and watering that has paid off.
Every year I try something new. This year I attempted to grow watermelons and cantaloupes in my garden. I was happily surprised and rewarded with two sizeable sugar baby watermelons, and enough cantaloupe to supply my husband with fruit for breakfast and as an evening snack (he likes to use a half-canteloupe as a dish and fill it with strawberry ice cream).
For a new adventure, my daughters and I also went raspberry picking for the first time. All was going well until I came face to face with a Black and Yellow Argiope–the most enormous spider I have ever seen in nature. All 1 and 1/2 inches of her was placidly hanging on her two-foot web between two raspberry bushes. This signalled the end of my picking; shuddering and shivering, I couldn’t get out of that raspberry patch faster if the spider had been chasing me! Well, maybe if it had actually chased me…
It was after arriving home with three quarts of the luscious, ruby fruit that I realized how much I have in common with raspberries. Raspberries are impatient. They want to be taken care of right away or they begin to grow fur. They bruise and bleed quite easily. There’s a reason why they come in shallow packages at the market–it takes very little pressure to crush them, and just the weight of a few on top will turn them into raspberry soup.
Over my 40 years I have developed a stronger “skin” than a raspberry, but I am most definitely impatient, sometimes growing a moldy disposition when forced to wait. I can withstand pressure, but when enough is enough, I become a human vichyssiose. I wish I could be more like an apple.
My parents have a Macintosh tree in their backyard. Just a few days ago my girls and I decided to pick as many as we could reach. The plan is to make applesauce, apple butter, and, of course, pies. The very next day I came down with a cold, therefore I was not about to start canning or baking. As I write this, the apples sit quietly, patiently, on my back porch. They are willing to wait until I’m ready for them. They aren’t so tender that they attract fruit flies, nor are they anywhere near to growing their own fur coats. Some may be slightly bruised from overzealous picking methods (“Hey mom, I’m going to climb up and shake the branches so the apples drop!”). Still they remain strong, even under the pressure of being four or five deep in bags! And when it comes time to finally turn them into sauce and butter, it will take considerable time, heat, and strength to crush them.
This past spring I planted two apple trees in our yard: a Northern Spy and a Macintosh. It will be a few years before I’m able to harvest any fruit from them, but that’s okay. I can be patient. I’m learning to be more like an apple every day.