The Sensuous Art of Plum Picking

Plums from our backyard tree are incredibly sweet and juicy. I take them to church and put them in the kitchen, where we munch. If you stand outside the room you’d think they’re having an orgy in there. “Oooooh…ummmm…OMG this is sweet…ahhhhhh…just one more… ”

I wait for the Magic Moment.

It sounds like they’re making love, but they’re just in the kitchen eating plums I hand picked. Actually, “pick” is too crude a word. I don’t just pick them, I caress them. I fondle them. I squeeze each one very gently and if there is a softness, I tug it ever so slightly, tenderly, away from the branch. If it doesn’t come off with this gentle grope, I leave it on the tree. It is not ripe.

My husband is annoyed by all this. Frank is a no-nonsense, just-get-it-done kind of guy. He goes out with his bag and just indiscriminately grabs every plum he sees hanging. He pulls them forcibly, with lightning speed. “You’re coming with me!” I can almost hear him say. He’s done in a jiffy, and comes in the house with a big bag of hard, slightly green plums.

It’s easy to tell whether people are eating plums that Frank picked or that I picked. When they’re eating Frank’s, it doesn’t sound like there’s an orgy going on.  

When life gives you lemons…share them!

There is a Meyer lemon tree in our front yard. If you’re a lemon fan, you probably know that Meyers are highly valued because they are sweet, thin-skinned and fragrant. The tree is loaded with lemons almost year-round, and neighbors covet them. My neighborhood has grown to be a very international place in the last 20 years. People living around me come from India, Iraq, the Philippines, Singapore, China, Eritrea, Japan…all over the world. They knock on our door and ask if they can pick lemons, and I never refuse. I give them a plastic bag, and carte blanche to pick as many as they want.

“Come anytime,” I tell them. “You don’t even have to ask. And don’t worry if we’re not home, go ahead and pick.” There are just so many lemons. The tree, 30 years old and absolutely huge, is loaded with them. And I am handsomely rewarded for my generosity. The Iraqi family on one side of us picks many lemons. They also have many parties, with lots of delicious, exotic Middle Eastern food flavored with an array of exquisite spices and herbs, and of course our lemons. They bring over large plates heavily laden with delicacies. A woman across the street, from India, also picks lemons often and always brings over a big bowl of the delicious lemon-flavored rice she makes. Other lemon-picking neighbors bring us food from diverse cultures.

My only complaint is that no one makes lemon meringue pie. I keep hoping.