Friday, September 6, 2019

Pears and other fruit

We had a large pear tree in the backyard of our small house at 120 Nichols Street. It produced lots of fruit, but I remember my mother's frustration that the neighborhood kids climbed the tree and sampled the fruit before it was ripe. They'd throw down the hard fruit after tasting it, thus spoiling what would have ripened. The next week they'd be back, tasting more pears, hoping for sweet ones, but lacking the patience to wait.  The pears were Bartletts, I believe, with yellow skin.

We had more luck with our crab apple tree, which grew by the back door. My bedroom window looked out on that tree. The fruit was tart, and tasty. That tree produced plenty of fruit and my mother made crab apple jelly each year. I remember the beautiful color of that jelly as light from the kitchen window passed though the small jelly glasses lined up in our kitchen.

We also had Concord grapes. The grapevines grew along a fence at one edge on our yard.

In summer we had wonderful blueberries. "High bush" blueberries. My mother had planted those bushes around the edges of the laundry yard south of our house, on a lower level close to the pond. In springtime when pond water flooded that level, Mommy would wear tall rubber boots as she hung out the sheets and clothes. Those bushes thrived. They grew taller and taller, eventually overshadowing parts of the laundry lines. Mommy let them grow, as she valued those small wild blueberries.

Granddaddy, meanwhile, preferred the large cultivated blueberries that grew on medium-sized bushes he'd planted along the garden path that ran west from our yard towards his yard. It was a friendly rivalry: cultivated blueberries versus wild ones, trim round bushes versus tall gangly ones. The big cultivated berries certainly looked better, but the small, darker wild ones had just as much taste, if not more.

Yesterday I began writing about fruit because of what I was reading in The Pine Knoll Story written by my cousin Janet.  Here's another quote, so timely for this season.

"At Pine Knoll, what apples hadn't dropped in the storm were beginning to ripen, 
and the children were back in school."

She was writing about September 1879.  Those children included seven-year-old Willie, who would grow up to become, among other accomplishments in his long life, a loving grandparent to Janet and her younger brother Bill, and to me and my younger sister Jean.

For a time in the 1950's, while Jean and I were in middle school and high school, and Granddaddy (William Stanley Nichols) was in his eighties, cousin Janet and her husband and their young sons lived with him, next door to us. Pine Knoll, the family home where Willie had been born and raised, was within easy walking distance, and two of his siblings (whom we called Great Aunt May and Great Aunt Margaret) enjoyed our visits.  Such memories!

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