I just put a container of plum sauce in my fridge.Â My next-door neighbor knocked on our door earlier today with a large bowl full of plums from her tree. It was aging, she told me, and not producing as many as it used to, but she knew I loved to make jam from it and there was more than they could use.
When we bought this house, Fred had been the gardener here and for her for many years and we were asked if we might keep him on. We couldn’t afford a single extra thing, I told the sellers honestly–but what I didn’t say was, even if we could and did, then it would feel to me like it was more his yard than mine at a time I was trying to adjust my brain to feeling that this really was our place now and that the house we’d built in New Hampshire was not anymore.Â Moving is hard enough.
Fred had really gotten into the art of grafting at one point in his life when a client had asked him to help them move part of their favorite fruit tree to one at their new home.Â It worked! Cool!Â From there, he grafted a few other things–and from what I understand, he didn’t always ask first.Â Since he also worked for our next-door neighbors and they had a plum tree, the ornamental plum in our yard could use a little spiffing up.Â After all: he needed to trim the one over there, and the elderly Japanese couple living here didn’t need a whole tree’s worth of fruit to worry about, so, hey!Â The solution!
I don’t think they knew it was coming.Â But that is how the ornamental plum with deep burgundy leaves in what later became our back yard had one large green branch off to the side that was loaded with fruit. Just enough.
I have to tell you, it was one really odd-looking tree.
It’s even odder looking now, the trunk distorted and lumpy; the producing branch, which lasted while our kids were little, died off quite awhile ago.
So my kids planted me my own plum tree for Mother’s Day last year, as I’ve mentioned, and I absolutely love it.
But having A. knock on the door with plums from her tree, the one Fred had lifted a branch from for our house so very many years ago, brought back many pleasant memories of a gentle soul.Â I did get to know him over time by his working at her house for our first ten or so years here, while his health held. He loved his work and friends and kept at it into old age.
There’s the memory of the time I waved hi at him when I saw him trimming our olive from across the fence–it had gotten pretty overgrown at top and had gone from being carefully bonsai’d to looking like the branches had mohawks, and it bugged him.Â I was grateful; he, though, was embarrassed at being caught and scrambled quickly back down the ladder on the other side, while I was going, no, thank you!Â He was a sweetie.
I do miss him.Â Maybe someday I’ll learn how to graft in a different variety plum onto my Santa Rosa to extend its season in his honor.Â Or an apricot.Â Jester trees are the way to go.
10 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>