This afternoon my husband came upstairs to my jam kitchen all in a tizzy. “Hon, come on outside. Thakur knows what some of our trees are. Come on.” He was so excited, I felt certain fruit was in my near future.
Lately I have been missing my old house terribly. Not necessarily the house, although there are parts of it I wish I could move down here, but the property. My crabapples are ready for jelly making. Apples and pears ripe for fruit butter. And come end of November, the quince will be ripe. And what to speak of the fall bloom of roses. Our new Alachua house has come with the absolute least amount of anything beautiful planted, what to speak of edible. So with this teaser from my husband I headed outside, camera in hand and smile on my face.
The two men took me out back to a huge tree covered in berries. I just looked at them. They were the kind of berries mothers warn their children about. Hard and green turning to a ominous blackish purple. “These aren’t poisonous?” I asked.
And that is when their fun began. They stood there pressing leaves between their fingers, inviting me to smell. Surely with one whiff I would know what kind of tree this is. Surely they overestimated me.
“Ummm…is it a spearmint tree?” I was throwing punches in the dark.
More crushing of leaves, more smelling on my part.
And that is when my loving husband uttered those three sacred words. “Just taste it.”
I trust him. So I did.
Bleah! It was like I was biting into a turpentine berry. My trust was betrayed. Was it really a poisonous berry? What the….?
“Camphor! It’s camphor!” the two shouted as if this revelation would somehow sweeten the horrible taste in my mouth.
Camphor. Uh-huh. I was called away from the kitchen for a camphor tree. And not just one. Oh no. Lucky me happens to have a whole yard covered with camphor trees. After having to hear about all the Indian sweets I can make using my camphor (none of which I will want to eat), I started back for the house. That is when they decided to show me our loquat tree.
Ahhh, real jammable fruit.
The loquat tree sits at the corner of our property near the street. Stupid me thought it was some kind of magnolia. Hey, I’m from the Jersey suburbs. I can spot the difference between a Monte Carlo and a Camaro, but if it isn’t associated with pavement, I can’t claim any natural expertise. But I am learning.
This loquat tree is a biggie. Because of the weather down here, a lot of trees give fruit twice a year. Our tree is about to blossom and smells great. I don’t know how many months from now we will have to wait for our loquats, but when the fruit is in I will be picking.
As for the camphor, if anyone is interested in making their own tiger balm, please, come pick. And if you want to dig some up and transplant them to your yard, that would free up valuable space on our property for some good trees. Like figs. Or persimmon. Or mulberry. Or anything other than camphor.