Friday, July 14, 2006

Street Fruit

I lucked out! Despite the heat, I took a short walk this afternoon (6-ish, so not so bad) to check the status of my favorite street fruit, which happens to be apricots. I don't take from the tree above, even though the owner seems not to give a tinker's damn about what he/she/they've got! You see, this tree doesn't put an arm outside the property line. So the fruit drops and either serves the ants and other fauna -- or it dries up. Too bad.

It's the property line that counts when picking street fruit, as anybody my age learned as a kid. Fortunately, I have another tree that serves up apricots. And here's what I found today:

Squished apricots on the sidewalk. That means they're ripe -- it might also mean that I'm too late. But over on the ground next to the sidewalk, look at what I saw. As in yum.

Actually, I wound up scoring five fruit that were edible, with 100 times the flavor of that beautiful but flavorless mealy stuff served up by the supermarkets. It's my one day a year to eat apricots (except for the dried ones, Trader Joe's preferred.)

Apricots are one of those tantalizing foods that catch you in the corner of the mouth when they're just right. (Raspberries are another fruit with that elusive quality. Fortunately for raspberries, they hold up through the marketing process.)

For a brief couple of days this spring, I thought that perhaps my own apricot trees might bear. There were certainly plenty of blossoms. But as seems inevitable, a late Prescott-style frost caught any fruit that was set. I have 6 trees that came up from fruit stones I planted the first couple of years we lived here. Sizes today range from 18" to 25', depending on how far the trees could dig their roots into the granite. To date, I have harvested 3 (count 'em, 3) entire apricots.

There are other street fruit trees on my walking routes. Good scrawny little apples that beat anything from the store for flavor. But fruit from the one pear tree I've spotted doesn't hold up when it drops.

On the other hand, there are those plums down at the SE corner of the Sharlot Hall grounds. There's at least one good bite from most even after they have hit the sidewalk.

I should mention here that, though they don't qualify as street fruit, several plants on the museum grounds offer goodies in season. F'rinstance, raspberries. (If you show up before the other raspberry fanciers do.) Then there is that forgotten fruit -- the gooseberry; the bush at Sharlot Hall bears really sweet tangy fruit (anyone out there know where I can get a gooseberry pie?)

There are also apple trees and a couple of peaches. The latter remind me of grocery store California peaches -- beautiful but flavorless.

As you can see below, the grape vines had a good start early this spring -- but today? Nada!

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