Sunday, December 8, 2013


plums begin to ripen
December brings us to summer.

We have some lovely fruit trees in our back yard, and we look forward to the crops each year.  Apricots are the first of the stone fruit.  They are on an old tree, and there may be enough for a couple of batches of jam, as well as the nicest ones to eat fresh.

Plums are next.  They have begun to develop colour, which will intensify over the next couple of weeks.  Once we have eaten what we need, and shared fruit with the family, there may be some plum sauce this year, as well as excellent jam.  Apricot and plum jam make very acceptable gifts.

The fig tree is heavy with green fruit, which will ripen over the next few months.  The young pear trees are looking good, and I counted 50 green pears on them.  Peaches are the last to ripen, at the end of the summer and into autumn, and we are usually able to lightly stew and freeze a large number of plastic containers of peaches. 

We don't get them all.  Brightly coloured parrots visit and take a noisy meal; possums work through the night; and there are a few insect pests that claim their own sustenance.  The little brown hens do their best to clean up the understory.

Noel and I enjoy working together on the fruit.  Noel's job started months ago, in the early spring, when he got the soft hair brush to dust pollen from one flower to the next.  Living in the suburbs we don't see many honey bees or other natural pollinators.

Now that the first fruit is ready it's important to get it prepared for preserves, and some for dehydration.  We don't use chemical sprays, so molds and pests will quickly damage the ripe fruit.   We have old recipes that our mothers used, from the PWMU Cookbooks.  We have sparkling clean jam jars put away in the cupboard, waiting to be filled.

Recently we bought some stewed peaches and pears, as our frozen supply had come to an end.  What a disappointment!  The commercial ones lack taste, texture, and body.  I won't be rushing to purchase more of them.

That's all very nice, you might say, but what does it have to do with the new theme of this blog, ageing and retirement from paid work?  The fruit trees have been an important part of our lives, marking the seasons, and encouraging us to enjoy the produce of the garden.  We look forward to continuing in this theme as each year comes and goes - tending a few trees, watching the flowers, the little green fruit, the ripe heavy fruit, and enjoying eating and sharing it through the year.

Life is often referred to in terms of seasons: the early spring time; the mature summer; the autumn when the harvest is completed and brought in; and the winter time of rest.  In that sense, the years of retirement are the winter.  In this life there is only one cycle, in which we engage and learn and invest and produce whatever we can.  There is a harvest, but it is in other lives: the lives of our children and grandchildren, and others whose lives we have nurtured or influenced in some way.  They each have their one cycle, and so it goes on.

I do not yet have a vision of the next life, which I look forward to.  Perhaps the winter time of rest will be a time of preparation for eternity: the new heaven, and new earth, and the new body.   

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