NATURE’S BOUNTY. Notice the capital letters, showing reverence. When my husband and I bought our 1993-built home on half an acre here on the Central Coast, the size of the one-story house, it’s California ranch style, and its half acre lot were big sellers, but the side-yard, filled with fruit trees tickled my fancy. All the trees were puny, but the potential! Two apricot, two plum, one each of orange, fig, peach, apple, and lemon. The peach and lemon died and I added an Asian pear apple, a lime and a grapefruit. Every year the orange, fig, and apple produce. Not the apricot and plum. But this year, the plum tree went absolutely wild. I had enough plums to feed the multitudes. I froze jam and dried plums, but I also froze fresh fruit for future cobblers and ice cream toppings.
So now you have the background. The point is, I come from a long line of fruit canners. Do you?
At the height of the plum season, I had to leave my house for a two-week family reunion. I invited about twenty women to come pick plums while I was gone. Takers out of twenty? Eight. Why? The women who came before I left town and after, were canners. They’d grown up in households where if you grew fruit, you canned it; if your neighbors had extra fruit, they shared and you canned theirs. If the peaches or pears were cheap in the marketplace, you bought a bushel and canned the fruit. If you heard someone had Santa Rosa plums, you came running. I come from a family of canners. Do you?
Before I left for my trip, some of women came over to my house to get the lay of the land. Most of them were wide-eyed at the bounty, excited to tell me stories of making jam, preserves and cobblers with fresh fruit. They left my house excited about their bags of fruit and anxious to tell me, when I returned, how they used the plums.
Eight out of twenty women who pulled plums off my trees were canners. I come from a long line of fruit canners. Do you?
Fear Land is a finalist for a Rone Award, thanks to all of you who convinced the Rone judges take a last look at my novel.