Saturday, August 13, 2016

Preservation



There is a plum tree out in my landlady's garden full of fruit and she lets me pick as much as I want, as long as I give her some of the canned plums afterward. I realize this an ancient, albeit much watered-down version of agricultural servitude. Yet it is a benevolent one.

And the days are pleasant and warm so I can stand here in a thin old muslin dress that is too ratty and threadbare for public but perfect for preservation.

I eat them too, but there are too many of them to binge on. I think of them in crostatas around Yule—my friend Celeste is a professional baker and has the best recipe for plum crostata. Maybe there will even be a lonely day in February where I can curl up with Kafka on the Shore and a bowl of pearl tapioca… and plums.

Stone fruits of all kind remind me of process better than any other. I'm not sure why. Apples blossom as well. So do raspberries. There is something singular about the drupes that makes them easier to understand and extend the metaphoric bridge. One blossom, one fruit, one seed, one seedling, one tree and I stop there because of course I am literally processing an entire orchard's worth of trees.

But they will never grow into trees. Celeste says that to make the plums taste better that you should either leave the pits in, or put them in the simple syrup. I remember something about amygdalin and cyanide being destroyed by heat. Perhaps that sweet, avoided death is what she is talking about.

But I keep a few pits. My old dress has a pocket and I put a few in there to keep for the year when either I no longer live here or Mrs. Wong dies and they rip down her house and garden to make apartments. The tree will be gone and so will I. I used to fantasize about being wealthy enough and important enough to actually transplant this tree. I could own a home and garden of my own and something as impractical as transplanting a living tree would be within my means.

It still crosses my mind, like other fantasies, but as I grow older I marvel at how quickly it disappears. Perhaps this is the first outrider of the acceleration in time I understand occurs in age. An impractical plot like a plum-tree-transplant could last for weeks in my 22 year old soul, but it only stays around for a minute now that I'm 46.

So I can, and put a few pits in my pocket. I still think of some place I can walk that is mine, more or less. The ratty dress will have a hole in the pocket big enough for me to leave plum trees everywhere.