The ‘Portugy’ & the Italian Part V Our Family of Trees Meet ‘Bud’

Frst Fruit
First Fruit
First Fruit
First Fruit

First ‘Bud’ of Spring       



 ‘Bud’ our apricot tree is a real worker and deserves to be in our orchard. First ‘bud’ of the season, he strains to produce fruit from those early blossoms. It’s amazing the twigs that spring from his massive trunk and branches. Soon, the apricots cluster around the fruit wood growing to full size, pale orange in color. First fruit of the season, often I have plucked the first apricot from the tree. As I smelled, I could taste the apricot’s slight acidity, its flesh firm. As I split open the fruit, I want this to be the best first taste, a Last Supper experience. Bud never fails.

We make apricot jam from Bud’s fruit, sometimes abundant, sometimes a light crop and sometimes, the birds beat us to it! Oh well, Rick says, “the birds have to eat too.” The recipe is Mom’s and classically simple, a “cup to a cup” Mom would say. At one point we did cut back on the sugar but never  did we add strange ingredients like pineapple. What did pineapple have to do with Valley produce? Since we are from the great central San Joaquin Valley, apricots are a big crop. As a result, the apricot jam we produced did not only come from our trees. We could always count on Dad to come home with his ‘signature’ 5 Gallon white plastic buckets full of ripe fruit. Many a season we would sit at kitchen tables for a ‘canning session’ splitting the juicy gems readying for the Vajretti  formula, combine fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Simmer slowly, very slowly and stir often. When the jam is thick enough to ‘coat a spoon’, it is ready. Every year, we canned and canned and canned so that during all the months of the year, we would have our apricot jam for Last Supper meals like Mom’s pancakes topped with our tradition of sour cream and apricot jam. 

Talk about organic, we never apply chemicals and always add the leaves, fruit, pits and branches to the mulch pile. Bud not only provides fruit and shade. at the season’s end, the leaves gone, the branches barren, the ultimate organic process occurs. Rick prunes Bud, strategically for next season’s crop and artfully for Bud’s shapely physique. Then, Rick takes Buds branches in his hands and creates wreathes, some as tall as I am. They are wondrous. I remember one Christmas, the largest wreath donned our fireplace mantle. On Christmas Eve; all the family present at our home, I told Dad that the tree he had gifted us was organic. Bud had produced apricots, shade and a giant Christmas wreathe, a gift that keeps on giving. He loved it! Throughout our garden, Bud’s pruned branches exist in many forms, arbors for ‘Sally’ our rose bush and for four climbing potato vines along the wall of our garden’s path. Many of our family have wreaths from Bud. He truly deserves his place as first born, as leader,as steady producer of our orchard.
First Harvest

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