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Fruit Trees, There Is A Child Starving in ______________

June 27, 2007
So Momo has an entry, a very thought provoking entry, almost overwhelming because it makes me think of so many things, stories, concepts, and personal experiences that I cannot seem to narrow my attention enough to write a coherent comment or competent responding entry. However, it did weigh on my mind as I took an after dinner walk Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day when my daughter and I were riding our bicycles back from her swimming lessons, I saw two areas where the sidewalk was splattered with plums. Some of the plums had bites taken out, as if a passerby was enticed at the sight but decided against it after tasting the offer. Some had simply fallen off the tree and was festering away on the hot sidewalk. Even though I never canned a fruit or vegetable in my life, I did think about how those plums could be canned. Once my mother and sister canned something, I do not recall what because I was not invited to the mother-daughter party, nor do I remember eating any of it later. Perhaps they were canning okra. Making jams and jellies sound fun, not to mention pretty. The frilly little paper top coverings with the colored string tied around them that I see in magazines are very handsome. I assume canning was one of those things among a long list of things that I was told I was not good at or I would not like before I was even introduced to it.

A few years back I saved up all the empty Trader Joe’s’ jams, pesto sauce, Dolmas (in olive oil) and Bruschetta jars because each had a very wide mouth and a nice strong lid. After soaking them in hot soapy water to remove the label and get the smell out of the lid I decorated each with holiday paper and ribbon and filled them with homemade rum balls to give as presents to various people, –the mail carrier, the dry cleaners, the school bus driver, etc. I am not sure if it was a hit or miss, I did not hear back from any of them. Actually, I read a postsecret once that was supposedly from a letter carrier asking everyone to give him/her money instead of novelty gifts so he/she could buy alcohol instead. Not judging their request for alcohol but the point to the novelty gift or at least in my case is so I do not have to spend much money.

I quietly watch so many people in public that now I do not remember if I once saw a woman getting out of her SUV with a bag of store bought oranges while she had a prolific orange tree in her front yard or if someone told me that story. My good friend who now lives in Germany and is pining for France once told me how sad it was to watch her neighbors newly shacking boyfriend move in and cut down the avocados trees she had in her yard. He did not like the avocados falling and possibly hitting his new car. One day at my school, I picked about five or six avocados from the library’s courtyard. They were horrible. Perhaps I picked them too soon. I would be interested in knowing if the fruit trees I see all over the place or just ornamental or safe to eat. If they are safe to eat, it alters my whole outlook about all the waste.

When I was a child summertime meant being hungrier than other months because school lunch was no longer available. All the children in the neighborhood knew where the fruit trees were. Unlike Southern California, we did not have so many, actually being an inner city neighborhood we were probably fortunate to have the few we did. The Winn’s (or Wynn’s) had a pomegranate tree in their backyard, close to the fence dividing their yard and the Harris’s. They were an unfriendly guarding white geriatric couple who were one of the last to abandon the deteriorating area. Mr. Winn fortified his yard with vigilante diligence. To obtain a pomegranate or two, it took a team effort, a look out, someone to engage (More like hear about how useless and worthless kids of today (60’s-70’s) are. Incidentally, pomegranate is an Ancient Greek symbol for fertility.) Mr. Winn while he was taking a break from mowing his perfect lawn (he used the manual push mower) someone willing to balance on the chain link fence holding on to a tree branch while plucking the pomegranates and tossing them down to the one willing to get caught being in the Harris’ backyard without permission. As summer went by each raid became more difficult because the unplucked pomegranates were the ones higher on the tree. Then there was a pear tree about three streets over, on a corner lot. It was a little easier than the pomegranate tree but we had to worry about crossing a drainage ditch and balancing on the fence risking falling in the yard of the pear tree owner or the ditch, which was rumored to be infested with snakes and broken glass. Depending on who was our co-conspirer the climber often was left to fend for him/herself if the lookout panicked. There was a persimmon tree in the yard behind our back yard but it did not bear enough ripe fruit to risk being caught. The next-door neighbors had a plum tree but it only produced a few puny plums and eventually died off because it was a favorite resource for most of the parents to get whipping switches.

People did not want the fruit from the tree in their yard, yet they did not want anyone else to have it either.

Nevertheless, I am still baffled after a few years here seeing so many fruit trees left to rot.

There seems to be a missed opportunity for the community or something, I am not sure, but it makes me sad knowing the fruit is wasted.

The first picture is an orange tree completely covered by a vine with pink flowers. The vine extends over the top of the orange tree and one whole side.

The second picture is an orange tree free of vines.

The third picture is a grapefruit tree or really big lemons left to rot.

The fourth picture is a plum tree with unwanted plums.

The final picture looks like tangelos.

Click picture to enlarge.
9 Comments
  1. gingermiss permalink
    June 28, 2007 4:02 am

    It’s funny. When I was a child, and blissfully not bothered by the possibilities of things being dirty, we would often try fruit from the trees growing in people’s yards. I believe that’s how I learned that crab apples taste nothing like real apples.

    One of our favorite things to do during recess at school was lick honeysuckle flowers. There were so many honeysuckle bushes near my school, and large fields filled with buttercups. I miss those things. And I miss the vegetable garden we had in our backyard, as well as my own person flower garden where I cultivated jasmine. It’s amazing how much of a difference having your own small space for those things can make.

  2. E. K.(Kitty) Glendower permalink
    June 28, 2007 5:51 am

    It’s amazing how much of a difference having your own small space for those things can make.

    Yes it is and sometimes I think it is going to be the death of me if I don’t get that space.

    Just a little space, like the three seconds between cars, the arm length in public, the patch of garden….

  3. Absorbant permalink
    June 28, 2007 11:24 am

    After some heavy rainstorms my excellent raspberries are looking much the worse for wear.

    There are so many that they are almost impossible to eat all of because they don’t have a long shelf life.

    I should look into bottling them, thanks for reminding me.

  4. lilacsnwormwood permalink
    June 28, 2007 4:46 pm

    Excellent post and it reveals, the truth,

    about the food waste in this country of ours…during the depression, the gov demanded pigs to be slaughtered [i’m pretty sure it was pigs] and there were

    millions starving in this nation.

    there are ‘warehouses’ full of rotting food that only some foodbanks get, i worked in one in TX, i asked, why the homeless couldn’t work in the warehouse and take the food,

    i was told, that the gov would not allow it for tax reasons, my job was to wash all these eggs for the ‘pig farm’,

    and to the ceiling there were boxes of cereals and canned goods, many left to expire,

    meanwhile, we have thousands of malnurished children and womyn and elderly in this country.

    They reason–if they give food away, it will cut

    into the ‘profit’ so rather than risk people not purchasing food, they throw it out,

    restaurants waste more food, fast food and eat in.

    everynow and then, some will ‘break the laws’ and donate food to homeless shelters,

    this is where the Freegan Revolution started–and in some states, can get you arrested.

    And its exactly just That Kitty, there are people that are so petty and selfish,

    they would rather the fruits fall and rot on the ground, than let children [esp children of color, and this i know because not only are these type of people classist they are almost always racist as hell] pick the fruit.

    And its that ‘private property’ philosophy, but fruit, was a gift to humanity from the earth,

    not a manmade creation. yet people feel they have the right to ‘own’ while millions starve in this world.

    and truly, it is the worst form of genocide there is, the deliberate withholding and hoarding of food.

    It is such an injustice, to think, in China, they have policies [and its sad and tragic because reality is, they are so overpopulated and if they don’t curb population people will mass starve, and they are still looking at a future of famine with the land being eaten up by development/pollution, agriculture land]

    but there are womyn forced to abort, etc., to prevent famine,

    and yet, we have food, rotting on trees and on the ground.

    and we Wonder, why so many countries, call the U.S.A.,

    Satan.

    Could you imagine, a child in Darfur right now, thin railed body, racked in pain from eating itself, thats what a human body does in famine, it literally begins to consume itself, to survive, to save the vital organs,

    could you imagine, that child, seeing these pictures of rotting food????

    The Sin of America, is not that she’s Prosperous,

    no,

    the Sin is, that she Wastes her Prosperity, and allows even her own children,

    to go hungry.

    If there is, a god, and a judgment day, no doubt,

    America will be judged, over the Waste.

    It speaks volumes, about how Selfish, this country has become.

    good post Kitty, keep them coming

    Tasha

  5. Professor Zero permalink
    June 28, 2007 6:08 pm

    Although: even if the owner ignores the fruit, it’s still better than having a non fruit bearing tree because at least the birds and the kids can eat from it.

    I was thinking about all of this the other day as I planted my Five Mexican Trees. I put the lime closest to the house where I can see it constantly, because I want *all* the limes. And one of the orange trees close to the street, and another close to the back fence, for the wandering kids.

  6. Kitty Glendower permalink
    June 28, 2007 7:25 pm

    I should look into bottling them, thanks for reminding me.

    Guy, you know how to do that? Very good. I am going to learn I think. I wonder if one could make jams and jellies or other similar items without having to make way too many. Other than “bottling”, (is that the same as “canning”) in a way, having too many raspberries provides a community opportunity. An opportunity for you to reach out to your neighbors and offer some. The guilt from the waste forces people to live outside of themselves. Now if you have shitty neighbors who tell you to go fuck yourself, or pick the berries for them, or something else incredibly rude, then the hell with them all.

    And its that ‘private property’ philosophy, but fruit, was a gift to humanity from the earth,

    Yes racist and classist. In our case, the owners did not allow the fruit to be picked. We risked having the cops called, shot at, or cursed out, or whatever. They were not having any nasty dirty old poor kids trampling in their yards.

    There are so many fences, gates, No trespassing signs that anyone who wants to walk, ride a bike, etc, are channeled on specific roads. It is a form of control, “keep the little bastards in eyesight.” That’s how I feel when I ride my bike, I have no choice but to ride on a stage.

    The Sin of America, is not that she’s Prosperous, no, the Sin is, that she Wastes her Prosperity, and allows even her own children, to go hungry.

    That’s it. You nailed it. There is a responsibility with prosperity.

    Although: even if the owner ignores the fruit, it’s still better than having a non fruit bearing tree because at least the birds and the kids can eat from it.

    Most definitely, I love knowing the birds are well fed. I would not want a bare tree.

    I put the lime closest to the house where I can see it constantly, because I want *all* the limes. And one of the orange trees close to the street, and another close to the back fence, for the wandering kids.

    What do you plan to do with those limes? A drinky drank or few. LOL! Ooh I made some nice lime cookies once.

    I think planting the trees near the street is a great idea. The problem comes if you decide to sit out there with a shotgun and shoot at any child who tries to pick an orange. I am amazed that an orange tree will grow in that southern mud. I always thought the soil had to have a bit of a sandy mix.

  7. Professor Zero permalink
    June 28, 2007 9:20 pm

    You have to mix in sand and make a bit of a mound. I figure anything I plant near the street or the back, they’ll grab, at least on that side of the tree. I am more concerned about winter freezes than southern mud, but we’ll see. Limes: to squeeze on everything, like in Mexico … they are key limes … but yes, can make margaritas and caipirinhas! 🙂

  8. Chris permalink
    July 3, 2007 3:29 am

    We had satsuma (like a tangelo) trees in our yard as a kid growing up in Florida. We took paper grocery bags of them to our relatives in NC each Christmas and they were received like a modern day kid would accept a Playstation III.

    I still remember sitting next to my grandfather, dressed in his farmer khaki outfit by the fire place. I was so proud to bring him an orange and can remember smelling the peels burning in the farmhouse’s fireplace as he enjoyed the fruit.

    I know this isn’t where you were going with this entry, but damn I miss him and those days.

  9. Kitty Glendower permalink
    July 3, 2007 3:43 am

    I don’t care where the comments go, as long as they are not abusive. I often wonder why some people apologize for long comments or OT comments. I will have to write about it one day.

    I used to love, love, love, my orange at Christmas time.

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