Confession and Obsession

November 23, 2014 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

I confess that I steal fruit.

It all started about five years ago. Our beautiful orange cat Alyosha had moved on to cat heaven, and we found our tolerable apartment infested by rats. They were attracted to the fruit falling off the neglected trees in the neighbors yard, and invited themselves in for a further feast in our home. For weeks, we bitched about it to friends while we very carefully put all food away,  closed cabinets, scrubbed incessantly, and left traps for the rats and insects (the fruit flies were really bad that year, too, because they were also feeding on the fallen fruit; they turned a few batches of cider to vinegar– sad face).

One day, I believe it was Miss Partner who said, “We should just harvest that fruit.” Ding! I went to work, and Miss Partner went picking. I came home to twenty pounds of plums and a handful of limes on the kitchen table. “What should we do with them?” Miss Partner asked. I cracked my knuckles or rubbed my hands together (this is more likely) or stroked my non-existent beard. I went to the bookshelf for our recipe books, including the Ball Canning bible Miss Partner bought just in case of apocalypse. Then I made pie, cake, sorbet, jam, and dehydrated some to prunes.

The new hunter, Krausen; so far he's demonstrated much skill with slugs, grasshoppers, and lizards.

The new hunter, Krausen; so far he’s demonstrated much skill with slugs, grasshoppers, and lizards.

Eventually, we caught the rats, and employed a new hunter. We also continued to unburden the trees the neighbor continued to neglect. This practice went on for years. We got tired of squeezing through the gap in the fence and put a stealth gate in the fence, water their apple tree, weed a small area, and plant other crops on the land. Then one of the other fences failed, making my activities more observable by a neighboring apartment complex. I also got tired of walking through the weeds to get to the abandoned compost bin and moved it closer to our stealth gate. That was probably the last straw right there. Somebody told on us. One day, we couldn’t open our stealth gate. We found someone had screwed 12 feet of board to the bottom of fence, effectively locking our gate. Miss Partner and I looked at each other, voiced our indignation, and then our understanding, and laughed that they wasted so much board trying to lock us out when we could just squeeze through the fence or walk around the block through their parking lot. Since then the owners hired landscapers to clear the area of suckers and weeds and trimmed the fruit trees, but that is all.

IMG_2776

Admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?

So that was the beginning. What began as a way to reduce vermin by taking their free food has become a free fruit and canning obsession. It has led me to buy 25 pound bags of sugar from Costco, comb the ads for deals on canning jars, ask my friends for their jars, and mass this collection of preserved goods that is great for birthday and holiday gifts (made with love and sugar; what could be better).

"Would you like some tomatoes?" Ella CSA asked me. "Yes," I replied. The next day I find 50 pounds of tomatoes on my porch.

“Would you like some tomatoes?” Ella CSA asked me. “Yes,” I replied. The next day I find 50 pounds of tomatoes on my porch.

These days, I try to get free fruit more honestly by asking for it, offering my time to help with a harvest, or house sitting. I do less trespassing and more public tree picking early in the morning. I walk the streets and look for trees dropping fruit; that means nobody wants it, right? I have promised Miss Partner will not have to bail me out of jail for my transgressions.

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Entry filed under: Canning. Tags: , , , .

Abject Failure; Candy Corn in Chocolate Chip Cookies Oh yeah, I make jewelry and sometimes I try to sell it

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