17 July 2010

Stolen Jam

We had been working in the garden when we heard our neighbour Renzo call to us. He was standing at the fence with a large cane basket which was full of small yellow fruit.

As we approached the fence, he explained that the fruit had come off his yellow plum tree that hung over our driveway. When he encouraged us to taste it, we popped a few into our mouths and found that they were very much like a red plum. Then he waved his basket at us and told us to 'take, take!'. I quickly dashed inside to get a bowl and happily transferred a few handfuls out of his basket.

That afternoon when we drove to town we noticed that the driveway was covered with these yellow plums. Renzo had said he collects only the 'duro' (hard) ones from the tree because the 'morbida' (soft) ones on the ground don't last long. I wondered if Renzo would mind if I picked some of the soft but newly fallen ones off the ground to make jam.

The following morning, before the sun had made its way into the valley and onto the driveway I set off with my own basket to collect plums. There were even more on the ground than the previous day so I had plenty to choose from. Since the quality of jam is only as good as the quality of the fruit and since I didn't want to deal with any grubs that might be dwelling inside them, I was careful to select only those plums without a broken skin.

As I knelt, bent and squatted to gather the fruit, more fruit kept falling from the tree. The soft dull thud they made as they hit the ground was the pure sound of nature giving which sounded only slightly less relaxing when they hit my head. It was as if by tapping me on the head, the fruit was warning me that there were more of them coming and that I should make haste with my jam making and not waste them! I imagined that it was probably preferable for them to be giving joy in a jam jar than squashed to pulp under a car tyre...

Since my initial expedition, I've made several more trips down the driveway with my basket. The result so far has been 3 batches (18 jars) of tangy yellow jam.

This taste of a bountiful summer will make it easier for us to get through a dormant winter.

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