Our plum trees are heavily laden with fruit. While this is wonderful it also stresses me because I feel a great sense of responsibility towards nature and its bounty: I simply "must" preserve it!
In preparation for my looming kitchen activity, I count my stock of jars and find them wanting. A quick trip to the supermarket followed where we bought 30 more Bormioli jars and lids. As we left the supermarket to walk to our car, we heard someone call from the paddock beside the car park. We have been watching this paddock for years now. In the colder months it is full of pigs and in the warmer months it is empty. It's just a small farm but the sense of traditional small Piemontese farming is strong and the place is organised, interesting and pretty.
We looked over to where the call came from and saw a small old man standing behind the wire fence beckoning to us. Our initial thoughts were suspicious and unkind: "Is it a trap?" and "Is he a beggar?" and "Is he simple or insane?". Thankfully our better sides emerged triumphant and we walked over to him.
His face wrinkled into a warm smile and he chatted continuously through gappy teeth about his fruit trees, all the while waving a heavy plastic bag at us. When we looked into the bag, we saw that it was full of ripe red plums. Still suspicious of his intentions, i asked him how much he wanted for the bag of plums. He wrinkled up, laughed, waved the bag again and exclaimed "Niente!". He then proceeded to lift the wire from the bottom of the fence. I watched his thin boney hands struggle with the wire until he eventually found a spot where he could lift the fence just high enough for him to pass the bag through. I took it from him and thanked him gratefully.
Of course, while I had relieved this man's need to make use of his fruit, I had unwittingly compounded my own preservation pressures! When I got home, I launched myself on our plum trees and plucked 4kg...which of course I then had to make into jam!
This is a typical July day for me: I pick 4kg of tomatoes, bring them into the house and make 9 jars of relish! I go back out and pick 3kg of red plums, bring them into the house and make 12 jars of jam! I go back out and pick 3kg of yellow plums, bring them back into the house and make 4 containers of stewed fruit for the freezer!
Thankfully admidst all this pressure the aroma of freshly harvested lavender drying in the kitchen helps me to relax...eventually...