Wednesday, May 20, 2009


YO, MIDAS

Funny things happen on the way through maturity. An interesting range of new feelings awaits.

Plum greed, for example. I'm not a greedy person, by nature; I have no wish to accumulate large amounts of money or property, which, beyond bare necessities, are to life as an anvil is to a canoe. So greed is a new feeling for me. Especially as it involves plums.

Our plum tree, planted as a tiny sapling out in front of the deck shortly after we moved in 14 years ago, has never been much of a success at its job description. It is lush and green, happy as a baby in the spring breezes and enjoys full health by every measure, except that it has never been much into fruit. The few recent years in which it did bear enough plums to merit the name, their number depended apparently on insectage, weather and bird/monkey depredations.

The year it bore the most plums, a gang of monkeys got them in just a few moments, as intrepidly reported at the very scene in these base chronicles. It was just more of the same, plumwise. So as it has turned out, a close look at my detailed account books shows me that thus far I have in fact personally plucked and devoured an average of 0.9 plums per year. But it's always a good 0.9, the way exceedingly rare things are.

In the normal course of spring things, a couple days ago I went out on the deck to check the tree for this year's handful of incipient fruit and was staggered to find that the tree had fat green plums hanging all over it, about the size of large olives. Glances here and there at various arboreal characteristics confirmed to my doubting mind that this was, in fact, the same tree as last year. The gods were not playing that particular trick. I reckoned that in a few weeks, when these plums reach their peak of full savory juicy ripeness, I would have several pecks (been a long time since I used that measure) of dreamy purple plums.

And suddenly I wanted those plums. I didn't want the monkeys or the birds to have them. I wanted all the plums I could get. They were my plums. Washing over me, coursing through my body, was the strange and powerful but toxic sensation of plum greed. As I observed those bushelfuls of green orbs, in my mind picturing the fully ripened fruits bearing a rich patina, like that seen on ancient gold and silver, I joined the King Midas crowd with my sudden craving to possess more than I could possibly consume. Even now, as I observe the still green ones growing there among the green leaves like broadening coins, I can begin to taste the perfumed sweetness of soft, ripe, tartskinned freshly picked plums. It's been so long...

But after a spell of calm thought in the shade, it came as no real surprise that abruptly large quantities of plums - in distant hopes of which I myself planted the tree, and for which I have been figuratively tapping my feet for 14 years - can have strange effects upon a plum-bereft expat from a distant country where the summers of a formative life were dense with the sweetest of plums.

Under certain fruitarian circumstances, greed is a perfectly natural reaction.

Yo, Midas.

5 comments:

Tabor said...

I am a very greedy person when it comes to what I raise. I would go crazy if I had monkey neighbors and I admire your Zen. I do not mind sharing...as long as I am the one parceling out the stuff! Perhaps it has to do with being hungry and somewhat poor as a child with four greedy brothers and sisters at the dinner table?

vegetablej said...

Little Jack Horner and you. Kampai!

R. Brady said...

Same with me, Tabor, except in my case it was three hungry mouths; all these years later I'm still very protective of what's on my plate...

And Little Jack Horner... of course, vegetablej! I haven't heard that name in decades, but it rings like a bell. Perfect.

Mary Lou said...

And poor Echo gets stuck with having to can them all? I have two trees in the neighbors yard that are hanging half on my side. one is green and one is red, and both are LOADED with blossoms. I hope I get some this year.

R. Brady said...

Mary Lou, just leave a nice soft net down there to catch them all... We've never had this many before, so it's learn as we go...
Plum jam yum