POCATELLO, ID – I’m eating a giant peach for breakfast. When I bought it at a local grocery, it was as hard as a bocce ball, but this morning it yielded a bit under finger pressure, so I peeled it. Et voila! It’s ripe and sweet with the help of a spoonful of sugar.
It’s September and there are invariably bowls and baskets of various fruits sitting around my house. Some, including these peaches, are supposed to be soft, but are hard as rocks. I bought these (avocados and giant peaches) at a local grocery store. They’ve been picked quite green in order to travel, so a waiting period is required for them to ripen. With luck they will ripen before they rot.
I have a bowl also of tart green apples from my own tree, the few that survived squirrel attacks, windstorms and birds. At some point, I’ll turn them into pie.
My back lawn is littered with apples that have one bite taken out of them before being discarded. Dang squirrels. They’re also busy cleaning up my black walnuts and spitting bits of the green outer skin all over my sidewalk. Whose idea was it to import these destructive beasts to Pocatello? Cute is NOT the best word to describe them. They cleaned out my apricot tree over night before I got any.
A gardening friend tells me that hanging bars of Irish Spring soap in the trees discourages squirrels. I haven’t tried it yet, but if it works, more power to such a disgustingly smelly soap product. I don’t know how anyone can stand having it in the house. A project for next year. Gardeners are excellent “next year” people. Whatever didn’t bloom or produce this year, will surely do so next year.
Dealing with excess is an art that I’ve let go quite dry these past years. I no longer have the urge to turn everything I find, harvest, or is given to me into a useful pickle, relish, pie, jelly, or bread/cake. There is only me to deal with, and I don’t eat enough of most of those things to merit the sterilizing, peeling, slicing, mashing, grinding, etc., required. Besides my four grown children who grow gardens and fruit do all of those things for their own families these days, a blessing in many ways.
I’m very proud to have passed on these survival skills and crafts to my children. And I’m glad to see more and more young people becoming interested in small farming and market gardening. The PBS television series GROWING A GREENER WORLD documents many of these projects people are taking on, including Urban Farming, Roof-Top Gardens, Market Gardening/Farming, Greenhouse Gardening, Farmer’s Markets, etc.
Many elements of self-sufficiency are not only necessary skills for the “just in case something happens” world, but have become fashionable – a good sign that healing our troubled American food system is possible.
I had a student who said she refused to buy organic vegetables because she heard they were grown in manure. Such ignorance of how biological systems work just cannot be encouraged in today’s world in which excellent garden/farming soils are either being depleted with chemical agriculture or turned into peculiar housing developments.
Michael Pollan’s books such as COOKED and the OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA as well as his general advice to eat real food, most of it plants, can turn people on to contributing to the human food system both practically and intellectually.
It’s all about engaging with Mother Earth, right here, in my private Pocatello.