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Goose Me—149 Times!

The Gardener keeps adding fruit trees and brambles to our yard. After abortive attempts at apples and red raspberries years ago it took years—and the examples of 4th Street Farm and London Ferrill Community Garden and Orchard—to convince us to try again.

Gardeners speak of a three-year investment in perennial and long-bearing plants: first the plants sleep, then they creep, and then, finally, the long imagined leap into the happiness of real productivity. With our fruits, I think of the years more like this:

  1. Year 1: Keep them watered; hover over them as they settle in. Our new "Nikita's Gift" persimmon from Nolin River Nut Tree Nursery is in this stage this year. Two small black raspberry brambles, a gift, are just getting oriented to our back yard, too.
  2. Year 2: Count the first fruits. When our two Montmorency cherries first bore fruit, we counted a grand total of six! This year our two gooseberry bushes, planted to take advantage of backyard shade, yielded a whopping 149 mysterious, sour fruits. One small crisp's worth!
  3. Year 3: Make pies. Freeze. Share with friends. This year our cherries yielded five pitted quarts of gorgeous fruits, with one tree's harvest shared unintentionally with a host of robins. Of our four established plum trees, two offered more fruits than we can reasonably count. The Gardener began experimenting with dehydrating them to make prunes.

Picking the 149 gooseberries, trying to dodge their mean thorns, I enjoyed a little visit in my head with Dad. Dad loved work of almost any kind, but he made an exception for picking gooseberries. "Joyce and I didn't much like it when Mama asked us to pick the gooseberries." I came to expect him to say that, perhaps enjoying his own visit in his head with his beloved younger sister, just as I took my first slurp of one of the gooseberry pies he mastered from about 1995 - 2000.

The thorns make gooseberries' fruits more precious, though I had a hard time yesterday imagining future years in which our plants bear so much fruit it's beyond counting. The "ouch" and the slurp: forever entwined.

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