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fruit forager

September 26, 2010

My friend Amy, a biology teacher, recently told me that sometimes while in the middle of her 2-hour monologue for Pathophysiology class she wonders if she already spoke these exact words about macrophages to these same students, or was it her Anatomy class?

I know, I told her. Between this blog, my biweekly newspaper column and my weekly local foods column, I often wonder if I’m repeating myself. I mean they all overlap, because it’s all about kids and food, which is my whole life anyway. And then we laughed. But it’s kind of true.

This week my friend Natalie and I were given access to harvest from a neighbor’s pear and plum tree. And after we had 4 overflowing buckets of fruit Natalie looked up and saw a high branch with a few remaining purple plums. Next thing I know Natalie’s in the tree performing a stretch that could get her immediate admission into an elite ballet troupe, nabbing those last few plums. And I love her for that.

Rose plumming out

I toted the pears and plums home in my bike trailer feeling like I had just mined a load of diamonds. And I can’t quite explain it, the giddiness, the feeling of wealth at picking 50#’s of juicy, sweet fruit. Steven Hopp, Barbara Kingsolver’s husband says in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, “the original human vocation is finding food on the ground.” (I would add: and in the trees)

Natalie's daughter Abi choosing a box of pears

And maybe that’s it; harvesting large amounts of food on the brink of winter is simply human.

I’m at the coffee shop right now and just squeezed my laptop power cord into a crowded power strip, turned around and asked another girl what the wifi password is. Whoa. Ten years ago I was at this same coffee shop, writing in notebooks and had never heard of wifi passwords. But, ten years ago at the end of September I was marveling over buckets of apples, plums and pears that sparkled with promise.

Anyone else knee-deep in fruit foraging season?

Anyone else get giddy over a bushel of local fruit?

Go here to San Juan Table to read about how zucchinis are out and apples are in, and how the fall fruit harvest was the backdrop for Dan and my courtship fifteen years ago.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2010 11:25 pm

    Well, I don’t think I get giddy over a bushel full of fruit, but I do really enjoy it! This is the first year I have done much canning, and seeing those jars lined up on the shelves makes me feel very happy and safe. I do hear you about the feelings one gets from filling our larder with a harvest.

  2. September 27, 2010 3:57 am

    I can relate! Free bushels of beautiful fruit–fantastic! (You should of seen us with our first community garden watermelon; we gathered around it at potluck like it was a new baby!). ;)

  3. Just Peaches permalink
    September 27, 2010 6:33 am

    There is an organization here in Toronto that might interest you, its called Not Far From the Tree. See:

    Fruit is harvested by volunteers from residential and public properties in the city. One third of the fruit goes to home owners, one third is divided amongst the volunteers and the last third is donated to food banks.


    We’re knee deep in apples ready to make some crisp!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 27, 2010 2:29 pm

      That is brilliant, we have a less organized version of that here.

  4. September 27, 2010 7:53 am

    What’s worse than feeling like you’re writing the same words over and over: going to tell a friend a story and being told, “I know, I read about it on your blog,” and realizing that yes, I really am as much of a bore as I imagine myself to be.

  5. September 27, 2010 9:12 am

    Harvesting apples: working on it. Down here it’s a bit harder to find pick your own orchards that aren’t booked a year in advance. And not many I know (anyway) have apple or pear trees in their city yards. ;) Although in my hood I’ve found a stash of some kind of cherries and plan to figure out what’s going on with those asap.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 27, 2010 10:26 am

      Katie – a lot of the trees we pick from are really old, from the days when people “homesteaded” their city lots. Maybe put the kids in the stroller and walk through some of the older parts of Denver and see if the boys can spy some fruit trees. Good luck!

      Other ideas: try posting a “wanted: fruit trees to pick” ad on Freecycle or in your local paper (ours has a “miscellaneous for free” section which you can advertise in for free. I’ve seen people run reverse ads, like: wanted: free bags of leaves).

  6. September 27, 2010 10:04 am

    Hi Rachael,

    I realize zucchinis may be on the way out, but I just wanted to share one last use for the marvelous veg…from my neck of the woods……/frenchtown-woman-beats-off-bear-with-zucchini/ – Cached

    and I am jealous jealous jealous of all that fruit!

  7. September 27, 2010 10:26 am

    That’s a goregous haul! I get giddy over that kind of thing, too. I love seeing my pantry shelves fill up with all that goodness and knowing that no matter what we won’t starve this winter (not that that was likely anyway).

  8. mancosmarion permalink
    September 27, 2010 12:39 pm

    I’m insane when it comes to apple picking – I picked 180 lbs at the Yellow Jacket CSU orchard on Saturday – Prior to going I study the online map of fruit – make a crib sheet of notes of what trees I want to pick – and than go forth – very seriously picking! Then comes apple pies, applesauce (my fav, too), apple slump, apple pancakes, apple coffee cake, apple muffins, apple bread….. oh I can smell the apples cooking. :)

    hmmmmm have I told you this already??? :)

  9. September 27, 2010 1:06 pm

    I was just talking to a friend about how awesome it feels to forage for food earlier today. I am filled with gratitude everytime I see how much food is right at my feet or within my reach in my yard or in the woods. It is the best feeling to me.

    I enjoyed your San Juan Table article…what a great way to court.

  10. September 27, 2010 1:17 pm

    yay! i get giddy over fruit/food foraging like i think some folks do over black friday sales. right now we’re in apple season and there are apples in various stages of undress all over the house. and though i’m not always sure what my readers think of it, i devote my end of the week blog posts to “foraging fridays”.

    anyway! all this blahblah to say yes! kindred-ness! and i have been tuning into your blog for a while now, but have been too in awe to say hello, but your plums and pears drew me out of hiding. i love it. thank you!

  11. woowoomama permalink
    September 27, 2010 5:10 pm

    i found an acorn squash in our yard the other day (it had grown over from our neighbors yard into an unused strip of land along our long driveway) and i was giddy – just giddy – with the treasure i had found in my yard. i day dream away the myriad recipes i could use it for. now, i know i’ll get many more from my CSA share but something about this free, found, food is precious.

    so i can’t imagine how gaga i’d be over a major influx of fruit. hmmmmmmmm, where can i go (suburban) foraging?

  12. September 27, 2010 7:36 pm

    So very primal to forage. It makes me giddy and grounded and connected through time to those who have followed the same path as well as those who will walk in the future. Happy Autumnal collecting! What a happy happy time of year.

    Peace, Nicki

  13. September 27, 2010 9:28 pm

    I can so relate to the experience of your biology teacher friend. I always felt the same way as a teacher, and now I feel the same way as a blogger. And I also share Andrea’s experience. I don’t even know how to behave sometimes in relation to my blog! Do I assume that my friends, who I know read my blog, already know the anecdote I’m about to share? Is it too presumptuous, so should I instead pretend the blog doesn’t exist and tell my story anyway? It’s all so, so bizarre.

  14. September 28, 2010 1:55 pm

    We went on our first apple picking trip this past weekend – does that count as foraging even though we had to pay by the bushel?

    I was so busy documenting my daughter’s first that it didn’t occur to me that it was mine too. Felt good to pluck fruit from the tree. Completely alien to me, but something I can certainly get used to.

  15. September 28, 2010 6:30 pm

    Our apple tree didn’t have such a great year. The usual bags and bags of bountiful harvest didn’t happen this year. Just two big grocery sacks. But I can hardly complain. This tree has rained apples on us 3 years with abundance. It deserves a year of rest.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 29, 2010 10:48 am


      Our apple trees were so loaded last year we had to prop up the heaving branches. And this year not even a blossom, so I too am chalking it up to a much deserved year of rest.

  16. September 29, 2010 5:14 am

    I’ve never really given much thought to the constancy of food through the seasons of life (for us in this prosperous nation, at least). Very true.

  17. kaya10 permalink
    September 29, 2010 10:07 am

    Yes, Yes, Yes! I think it’s a bit of an obsession! You know – I think it may be a bit biological -I’m sure it’s a primal urge – all of this hunting and gathering. That is why we love and do it and feel completely consumed by it!! I’m enjoying your blog – (when I remember to read it!!!) and like the synchronicity – we are here ina 7500ft growing season, not too far from you… New Mexico.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      September 29, 2010 10:52 am

      I’m definitely thinking estrogen plays a role in this gathering urge.

  18. kaya10 permalink
    September 29, 2010 10:56 am

    I will have to look into it – that will be a fun research project!


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