How long can a girl resist…

… trees full of ripe fresh free fruit? I know I still have plenty of fruit in my own garden to pick & preserve, but still…

In the middle of our little town there’s a peaceful little garden, open to the public, opposite the Library and running down to the bank of the millstream. It was once a kitchen garden and still has two big fruiting trees, an apple and a pear, hanging over the street, as well as a bay tree, herbs and various other edible plants, all well overgrown now. It belongs to Salamanders, the “Good Cook’s Shop” but none of our local good cooks seemed to have thought to actually use this fruit, which has been falling for a while and generally messing up the pavements underneath.

So today a friend and I took our two applepickers and a shopping trolley and went and asked permission to pick some of the fruit. This was duly given, and we spent an hour or so of total frustration waving our pickers madly at the gigantic pears hanging mostly just out of reach. Most of which are still there, but we did get a trolley-load of lovely free fruit, some of which is bubbling gently away on my cooker even as I type, gently sweetened & spiced. But we also got some very funny & suspicious looks! One lady commented sadly that we should leave it all for the squirrels; all I can say is that there probably aren’t that many squirrels in the whole of Dorset, that they could eat it all before it goes off! And as for the gang of kids who were falling over laughing at our antics – who gets the last laugh? The people who think it’s funny to expend any effort to get good food when you could just go & buy it, or the people who can think of better uses for their money?

But there were some delightful moments too; the Polish gentleman with his pretty little daughter who couldn’t resist having a go with the picker, and simply beamed when we handed him the giant pear he’d snared. The many people who stopped & said, “Well, thank heavens they’re not all going to go to waste!” The children who were so thrilled to be given a juicy pear fresh from the tree, and the people who were impressed with our assorted plans for our foraged goodies. Not to mention those who told of us of other fruit that’s just going to waste or even becoming a nuisance, dropping onto pavements and being left to rot.

Next year, we’ll get in earlier. And be more organised – and have even more jamjars and preserving jars ready for our scrumped & scrumptious harvest!

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