wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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The Beastie

The little yellow-green plums are ripe, and many have fallen to the ground.

I sit in my lawn chair, keeping the dogs company, but they want more. They want me to throw a glove to retrieve; anything to get my attention.

I’m too hot and tired to comply, so Emma goes over to eat a plum.

She looks over at me. “So aren’t you going to stop me?”

I’m too tired or lazy to care.

She runs to get another plum and takes it across the yard to be sure I notice her.

“Aren’t you going to stop me? I’m eating your plums….”

I just don’t care.

Emma repeats this attention-getting plum eating thing, and I lazily count how many times she runs back and forth from the tree to the “grassy eating place.”

At FOURTEEN plums, I think I’d better haul myself out of the lawn chair before she has an accident. I imagine her little belly full of pits. I’ve checked on this before, and they do pass right through. But FOURTEEN of them? And she’s a small dog.

I walk around the yard telling deaf old Ruby the springer spaniel to please hurry up and pee so we can go in. Emma has no interest in doing anything. She’s taken off into the shrubbery around the backyard.

It’s starting to get dusky. Time to go in.  Ruby is already at the door, but where is Emma?

I call her.

No Emma.

I call again.

No Emma.

I wonder if she has slipped out through the gate somehow, but she’s really too big for that.

I imagine her lying in the bushes writhing with gut pain from eating too many plums.

Finally she appears, but she’s not running to me. I have to call her over. She has her head down and comes reluctantly.

Then I see a feather in her mouth – or wait – no, it’s a tail. OMG! Does she have a rat in her mouth? No. Too small. A mouse then? Or is it a baby rat? I have mixed feelings. If it’s a rat, kill it (and I don’t want to touch it – actually I don’t want her to eat it either). If it’s a mouse, please let the poor thing go.

But she has her jaws clamped shut. Just the tail of the poor little creature is hanging down the side of her jaws like half of a Fu Manchu moustache.

I want her to give it up, but do I want this (possibly) rat in my hand?

Gingerly, I take hold of the tail and say the magic words that make her give up whatever is in her mouth. (It’s not, “Drop it,” or “Dead bird,” or “GIVE-IT-TO-ME-RIGHT-NOW!”) I have to be polite, and say, the way I’ve taught her, “Thank you!”

She opens her mouth and I pull out a

“Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!” (Thank you, Robbie Burns.)

The poor thing is a bit wet and scruffy, but still able to run, if only it knew which way to go. I hold back the Hound of the Baskervilles and give the poor wee beastie time to escape.

 

 

Then we come inside where Emma tells me she’s eaten too many plums and didn’t have room for a mouse anyway, and that, by the way, she’ll be getting me out of bed at 12:30 in the morning to go out the dark and deal with the plums once they’ve done their work.

 

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The Sunny Side of Life

We have five apple trees. One is a baby, a Gravenstein, parked right next to the grandfather Gravenstein tree. The little tree is doing fine but the big one has been leaning towards the sun more and more each year. By the time I noticed, it was too late to pull it back, but it probably would have been a good idea to put a stake in and tie it back anyway, to stop it from getting worse.

And worse it got!

With this early spring and warm summer, everything grew more than usual and the apples grew mostly on the sunny side of the tree, weighing it down even more on the leaning side. One day, I realized that the whole tree could fall down under the weight of so much fruit all on the sunny side. The apples must have watched the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?” When I went out into the  backyard, I could have sworn I heard the apples singing  “Keep on the sunny side of life.”

I propped up the tree with a 2 x 4 as a desperation measure until the Captain could come home to help save the tree.

The plum tree to the right of the apple tree has a long branch that is also low to the ground. It is so loaded with plums that it lost two branches under the weight.

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The photo below shows a Wilmuta, an early cross of Jonagold. They are late apples — hardy, sweet, and juicy.  Again, the sheer weight of the apples on this dwarf tree, mostly on the sunny side (apparently they listened to the same song), had branches breaking and the tree trunk leaning.Tying it to the nearby plum tree helped for a while, but as the apples got bigger and heavier, the tree leaned even more. A couple of pieces of wood put in to prop the branches and the trunk have not prevented breakage and the tree is still in need of triage (or is that tree-age?) As soon as the apples are harvested, I’ll call  NINE- TREE-TREE. 9-1-1 is only for people, I think.

dscn6375The other two trees, a Transparent and a MacIntosh, are behaving well. I have certainly been able to have “an apple a day,” but this year, maybe we’re having too much of a good thing.

P.S.  A friend just reminded me that I haven’t pruned the trees for a while and that is a major contributor to my problem with the breaking branches. I know she’s right!


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Feast or Famine

Everything seems to happen at once. We’re overloaded with fruit and nuts and then it’s over and there’s nothing – unless I dry or freeze some of it.

I thought I would show you about a third of the hazelnuts and filberts I’ve picked up and de-husked this fall, so you can see why I’m late getting anything posted on my blog lately. One problem is finding the space to dry the nuts. I used to put them on window screens balanced on my clothes drying rack and the contraption would stand in front of the woodstove downstairs until the nuts were dry. Since we have a lively puppy in our house, that option doesn’t sound so wise anymore. One bounce too many and there would be nuts all over the place, including the nuts who had to pick them up. You would have to be nuts to take a risk like that with a rambunctious puppy in the house.

So I’ve usurped the dining room table and any other surface I can find. Sorry, dear, no cookies. The cookie sheets are all in use.DSCN3826

The plums, apples, and pears are not there to dry, but only for showing off what is taking up the rest of my spare time. Washing and pitting plums, peeling and cutting pears and apples, and bagging everything in ziplocs for making cakes, muffins, and desserts later on.

Below is a photo of my favourite fruit of the whole yard, a red anjou pear. Mouthwateringly sweet and juicy!

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What a shame that with fruit it’s always a case of all or nothing. I’d love to be able to pick a pear off the tree at all different times of the year.