Thursday, July 24, 2003

This is a comment about nature and how unfortunate it is that it doesn't come packaged in individually sealed wrappers for our convenience and safety.

Daughter and I were out pulling weeds in the yard yesterday, which is a surefire way to eradicate any warm feelings you might have toward grass, plants, and live things in general. After an hour or so of itchy, sweaty work, we decided to go inside for a snack. And on our way inside, we passed one of our trees which has been working on growing plums for the past few months.

"Are those ripe yet?" asked Daughter.

I smiled a condescending mom smile and started to explain that those were yard plums. The kind that grow on trees, not the kind we eat.


While I respect the tree's efforts, it just never occurred to me that these little nuggets of juicy, pulpy goodness were the same sort of things for which I routinely pay around $2.00 per pound at the local grocery. For some reason, the produce in the store is clean. Pre-bagged, priced, and neatly stacked. So far removed from its natural, free-growing state that it seems to have more in common with the boxed cereal in aisle 4 than the potted mums you'd see in the floral department.

Yes, that's right. Plums DO grow on trees. And so do other so-called fruits and vegetables. In the dirt, surrounded by air, and crawled on by bugs. It's from this filthy, sordid past that the produce is plucked, cleaned up to look respectable, and warned never to mention its roots in polite company.

So, feeling foolishly urban and out-of-touch with the fine, fertile planet of my birth, we picked some of the ripe plums, washed them, and sliced them up. (I'll admit, I had to pretend I'd just bought a pound of them at Schnuck's in order to ward off the fear that they would erupt into germy, wormy, sliminess as I cut into each one.) And by Demeter, if they weren't the best darn plums we'd ever tasted.

Then Dad came into the kitchen and exclaimed in horror, "You're not eating the plums from the tree, are you?"

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