Heartaches, Attachments, Autumn

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Autumn Leaves 1Flowering Cactus with shadow Seed Pods 1Prickly Pear Fruit 1Toyon in Autumn 1As I type these words, I’m trying to memorize the contented sound the quail make as they move through our yard. It goes something like this: whoop whoop whoop whoop. But I’m frustrated because that sound isn’t quite right and I’m quickly running out of time to learn it by heart. So each morning I scatter seed then wait, watch and listen. When I feel overwhelmed, I go outside to soak up some sun and check on the oak tree we planted two years ago; inevitably, a tiny lizard joins me. Each evening a hummingbird pays us a visit and I delight in the sound of it’s wings. I want to capture these moments and file them away.

Last week I picked two limes from a tree I planted five years ago. They were the first limes the little tree ever produced. Our Meyer lemons are starting to turn yellow, but we won’t be here to pick them. We bought and planted that tree six year ago, the very weekend we arrived in California. Have you ever planted a tree knowing you won’t be around to see it mature? In my mind, that’s one of the least selfish things a person can do. It’s a gift for future generations.

Now, do four favors for me, please?

Read this post by artist Lily Stockman and listen to this recording of the Mojave Desert at dawn by naturalists Sarah Koschak and Andrew Skeoch.

Plant a tree, then go hug someone you love.

Windfall

Windfall ApplesWhile out walking this morning I was thinking about a million different things – how it’s starting to feel like autumn, Cecilia’s Homegrown September Challenge, as well as this NYTimes article – when I came across a sight that breaks my heart: windfall apples rotting on the ground and in the street.

Windfall Apple Tree 1

It wasn’t the first time I’ve run across this in my neighborhood; I’ve seen lemons, grapefruit, oranges and apples rotting on the ground, only to be cleaned up and tossed in the yard waste bin by the homeowner’s gardener or mow-n-blow crew. And it makes me sick.

Windfall Apple Tree 2

This sort of wastefulness is so common, I’ve taken to carrying a small canvas bag with me wherever I go. Without missing a beat (and without trespassing), I picked up as many of the least damaged apples as I could carry: about 15 today, as well as about a dozen yesterday. No doubt, some people around here think I’m a bit odd, but I can live with that. I wonder, have these people never seen hunger? Although I’ve never experienced true hunger, I’ve witnessed it first hand. Perhaps that’s why this bothers me so much. 

Windfall Apple CoresBecause my parents lived through the Great Depression, wasting food was never ever tolerated. As a nine year old, one of my summer responsibilities (besides tending our vegetable garden) was to deliver paper lunch bags filled with ripe plums – gathered from our tree – to each of our neighbors. Not a single plum ever went to waste, and goodness was that tree was productive! Sadly, many people don’t seem to understand the concept of sharing their bounty rather than letting it go to waste. I just don’t understand this. Whatever happened to simple acts of kindness like sharing?

Windfall Apples 2Some people turn their nose up at less than perfect fruit. I think that’s silly. Surprisingly, only a few of these apples were bruised. I’ve seen worse bruises on store-bought fruit. And yes, I did come across two worms, but really, how difficult is it to cut that part out? Best of all, these apples were delicious! In the end, I cut up about two dozen apples and had enough to make a pie or crumble.

Windfall Apple Oatmeal CrumbleWindfall Apple and Oatmeal Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, toss together 6 cups cored, peeled and roughly chopped or sliced apples with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, a tablespoon or two of brown sugar and a heaping half teaspoon of cinnamon. Place combined ingredients in a shallow glass baking dish.

Mix together a half cup of quick rolled oats, a quarter cup of toasted & chopped walnuts, a quarter cup of brown sugar, a heaping half teaspoon of cinnamon and three tablespoons melted butter. Combine to form crumbs.

Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbling. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

p.s. I eat the apple peels while I work. In this house, nothing goes to waste.