Mr Mandy Sutter and I moved to a new plum tree last summer. The tree wasn’t the main reason for buying the house, of course – that was the greenhouse. But I digress (already). The point is, the tree has exceeded expectations and presented us with plum upon plum. My scales have registered 100lbs of fruit, with more to come.
Mr MS has teetered on a step ladder with a rake and I have plummed everyone I know, including nodding acquaintances like the men who hang around the lockups at the bottom of our road.
Our house is like a drug dealer’s, with people arriving in cars at all times of the day and night to receive.
And the plums have brought intelligence. One of our young neighbours (10) we discover, has been gardening since he was 3, has a greenhouse and from next month, an allotment. Our immediate neighbours don’t like plums. What freedom they must enjoy!
The plums have also brought reflection. How salutary it is to receive a bounty that one has done nothing to earn! Especially when weeks of back breaking labour at the allotment produce nowt but a handful of broad beans and a few unimpressive onions.
Being my Dad’s daughter, waste makes me edgy. So I’ve been enslaved to picking, distributing, freezing, jamming and chutneying as well as cake, clafoutis and crumble making. Mr MS no longer listens to sentences that contain the word ‘plum’ and my trousers have grown tight. Dog MS has learnt to eat windfalls, with colourful results.
An interesting essay by the artist Leora Fridman quotes the French gardener, botanist, and writer Gilles Clément, known for his design of public parks. He writes: All management generates an abandoned area.
What abandoned areas are being created by obsessive plum management, I wonder? What if one relinquished control and let the rest of the fruit rot? Would it be spiritually fruitful if not materially so? If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors at our house, it is discussions like this, accompanied by a nice cup of tea and a plum flapjack.
I once threw my hands up in horror at a local Bramley apple tree, gravid with fruit that the owners never picked. But perhaps they were more spiritually evolved than I.
The plums are slowing down though, so facing this particular spiritual issue can be postponed.
Except that the fruit on the other tree, a greengage, is starting to ripen.