“Hi, my name is Sarah. Can I please pick your fruit”?
:Subtitle: Why it never hurts to ask.
Last week, the lad and I were scavenging picking blackberries in the neighborhood. After filling a 10 pound bucket, we set off for home. As we turned the wagon on to our street, a car pulled in to the house at the top of the hill that no one seems to live in.
Now please keep in mind, I’m a friendly neighbor to everyone. But, if your house appears unlived in, and your yard is douched with trees full of fruit screaming to be picked, we’re instant besties.
As the driver of the car got out, I yelled “is this your house”? The man turned around, said “yes” without making much eye contact, and tried to walk away from the crazy lady with a wagon full of blackberries.
Dear reader, I am not that easily brushed off.
I (again) yelled out “I used to know the couple who lived here – the Jones (made up name) (the stranger is now looking at me), “the woman had such a lovely garden. I used to mow her lawn on occasion and she paid me in cucumbers”. I now have direct eye contact from the man as he says “those were my parents”!
We then talked for about 15 minutes about his wonderful parents who passed in the late 90’s, the garden, etc. I found out his son occasionally lives there, but he travels for work and the gardens weeded over and the gorgeous fruit trees go unappreciated. Now that Stan and I were suddenly great friends, I dropped the question that was in my brain. “…so, can Jack and I please pick your fruit”?
And. It was out there.
He said that would be fine, and took me one a tour of what was available. They have a green apple tree (no clue as to the type of apple), and two plum trees. You guys, these trees are LOADED with fruit that is only a few weeks away from being ripe.
I told him I’d pay him cash, and/or in canned goods for the privileged of picking. He (wisely) chose the canned goods (SCORE!), and we set up a picking procedure:
- I call him to ask permission to pick.
- He will call our nosy neighbor George to tell him I’ll be there picking so that George doesn’t hassle me. George likes to sit on the deck in the summer and strum tunes on his banjo that make me feel like I’m gardening during a scene of Deliverance. It’s as if any moment when I’m trimming tomato plants I’ll hear someone telling me “you have a pretty mouth”. (which is true)
- I’ll let him know when the canned goods are ready. I will leave them on their front porch and he’ll pick them up the next time he is at the house.
Everyone wins in this arrangement.
But, mostly me.
And my wallet.
I know I spent a lot on organic apples last year, and our applesauce (or applesquish as Jack calls it) still ran out in March. We’ll get about 40 pounds of organic apples as part of our fruit CSA this year, but I love that I am able to supplement our extreme applesauce habit for free. And 40 pounds of apples is simply a drop in the bucket as far as Jack is concerned.
I am a bit nervous that these apples won’t be good saucing apples, but we also love making apple chips and “apple Jacks” (recipe coming this fall. Just trust me on why I can’t share it yet, m’kay?), so if worse comes to worse, I’ll have to source saucing apples somewhere else.
And if you’ll give me enough time to craft a load of crap explanation, I can convince you that I’m keeping the neighborhood free of pests who would descend on the feast of dropped fruit from the neglected trees. Really, that kind of makes me the best neighbor on the block, yes?
Now what to do with all those plums…?
This actually made me laugh out loud! 🙂 So jealous right now!!
I love your blog. It makes me feel like we are old friends. I too would be after that fruit. You are in luck because I live in South Dakota. Because my kids are all grown 40 pounds of applesauce would be just about enough. Thank you for sharing your life.
Holy s**t you continue to crack me up as do some of your followers commenting. I know you are just coming off your gluten free thing but my mom and I used to make fried pies using peaches. I’m sure you can do the same with apples. And go with the wine suggestion for the plums. And as for Stacy’s comment – aren’t dried plums prunes? ick. But they serve their purpose! Have a great weekend!
That is so awesome that you can get free produce like that!! My sis made 2 blackberry pies and 1 blackberry crumble with the blackberries from my back hill. I bet my neighbors thought we were crazy seeing me hold onto her belt loop as she leaned over the hill to pick berries that I was pulling up towards us with a rake! People out here think they are “weeds”(my sis cried a lil when she saw blackberry spray at the store), but I see all my lovely overgrown blackberries as GOLD! Maybe I can manage my big overgrown hill full of only god knows what and next year I will have an endless supply of berries!!(I will have to fence the bottom of the hill so people walking by won’t be so tempted to eat MY berries…lol jk, but I will post a sign!)
This year I was given 100 pounds of plums. TWICE! After using almost all my jars on sundry plum items, I quickly learned how to make plum wine!!! http://www.home-winemaking.com/winemaking-1.html I used fermented pulp. I have perhaps 12 quarts of homemade wine in the pantry. To some, i added vodka to end up with a sort of brandy (in six months or so). I don’t drink, so this is for barter. It is quite a process, and I repeated it with grapes and apples. I used baking yeast, not wine yeast, with passable results.
We love dried plums. I just toss them in the dehydrator until they are dry, but still pliable and no longer sticky – if that makes sense. Have fun foraging your neighborhood. I think it’s great that you can do this. We’re learning about the wild berries up here in Alaska. Free produce is always awesome!
Don’t worry too much on them not being good saucing apples. We live on an apple orchard and pretty much have no clue what variety most of the apples are 🙂 But I sauce lots every year and with a touch of cinnamon – they all taste wonderful!
My sister cans plums whole and makes plum preserves and plum butter with her plums, which she gets loads of every year. She calls her harvesting urban foraging 😛 “You gonna use those (insert fruit here)?” 😛
That actually brought a little tear to my eye. I asked my neighbor if I could pick their apple tree and they practically jumped for joy to get all those “nasty” apples out of there. Every year I get about a yard cart full and the peeling and canning begins. Drying too. I feel like Forrest Gump’s shrimp boat friend – apple sauce, apple butter,dried apples, apple pie filling…..
G-pa was wrong you don’t need to go to “charm” school, you can charm almost anyone!
“So I noticed you have a big farm and I just happened to be getting married…hey I noticed you have beautiful hydrangeas and I just happen to be getting married…hey I noticed you have just enough room to store all my stuff and I just happen to be moving…hey I noticed you have a big strong husband and I happen to be moving” 🙂
Aim, you’re right, your sis is an accomplished Con.
Sarah, I think That tree of Ms’s G’s is a Transparent. Your Nana used to send Jim and I out with a bucket to collect those for pies which were delish. Nana probably used more sugar per pie than you use total per month, but oh my they were great. I’m also pretty sure she sauced them.
Have fun this W/E.