Thursday, July 21, 2005

Plum and Peach

So let me tell you about the Plum tree.

Off to the side of the parking lot at Wild Bill's, just past the stacked boles of uncut trees and the haphazard pile of cut and split firewood (3 sticks for a dollar), there was a Plum tree fully laden. I noticed it when we rented the canoe and kayak, and I told myself I'd pick and eat at least one plum later.

The tree was large as Plum trees go and had many branches. Each branch was loaded with fruit. You could have taken two bushels of ripe plums (if you had a ladder), and the tree would have appeared untouched.

We had a Peach tree at the house on Hillcrest when I was growing up. It was on the east side of the house, near the Anthony Waterer Spirea and the then-young Blue Spruce. It had narrow peach-tree leaves and dark, flaky bark that was in perfect counterpose to the Birch. But it never had fruit, except one year.

There came one spring, as I remember it, when the tree exploded in flower and later with fruit. Not only did it have peaches, but they were exceedingly large and unblemished (there being no peach tree pests for miles, situated as we were in the heart of corn country).

These peaches were perfect for eating straight off the branch, but there were too many for us to handle. As I recall[*], the task of mowing that year was a daunting one.

But late that sprint, the Peach tree died.

This Plum tree at the side of Wild Bill's made me think of that Peach tree and of its demise. So as I pulled a plum off a low-hanging branch and ate it, I wondered if the tree would be there next year.

Maybe we'll be there to see.

[*] The fidelity of this recollection is suspect. It is one of the shames of my youth that my father did almost all of the grass cutting.

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A Close Call in the Woods

There's something in the woods, Ben said. It gives me the creeps.

I heard what he said, but I didn't pay much attention.

Later that evening, well after it was dark, I was washing a pot and needed to toss the yucky water into the woods. I walked over to the trees and swung the full pot to empty it out. As I swung, something large scurried in the undergrowth. There was a scrambling/dashing sound.

When I got back to the campsite, a breeze blew up from the river and came thru the trees in the woods. And the unmistakable odor of skunk filled the air.

There was something in the woods. And what a close call I had.

Buffalo Point campground
Buffalo National River, NW Arkansas

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