: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:
Everyone wins in this arrangement.
- 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.
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...?