Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Apricot Answers

God is wise. I am not so wise. I think I'll keep working on trusting His wisdom even when it doesn't mesh with my ideas.

Thus I am up at 1 a.m. typing this.

I've been reflecting on God's subtle and infinite wisdom as I washed up the almost inconceivable pile of utensils after rendering apricots into puree and putting it in bags for the freezer.

Last year, we had a bitterly hard freeze in late April...the legendary "Easter Freeze". It killed ALL local (and regional) fruit except for a few raspberries, grapes, and persimmons. How sad a summer (and fall, and winter) without apples!

But last year I was a year younger, a year more stressed, a year less experienced a bus driver, a year less adapted to balancing the work of the farm with the work of driving AND with taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually. And I had a lot less of a support community around the farm to help me balance things.

As much as I chafed at not being able to make applesauce last year, I now soberly realize that I COULD NOT have tried to do any food preservation (beyond throwing tomato chunks in the freezer) and stayed sane.

THIS year, this year that is blessed with the most bountiful fruit crop in Pinwheel Farm's history, I CAN balance all this...after a fashion. And this year is the first, in about 5 or 6 years of production, that the squirrels have left any apricots for me.

It's a "Sweetheart" apricot--bred so that the usually-inedible pits can be eatenlike nuts. The squirrels did not have to read the Stark Bros. catalog to figure that out, right off the bat. Usually they strip the tree bare of fruit while the 'cots are still hard and green, throwing little chips of green flesh onto the ground and eating the nuts. Before this year I had eaten exactly HALF an apricot from it...and that was salvaged from the ground, dropped by a clumsy squirrel.

This year there are many whole, ripe windfalls--even ones without worms! They are incredibly delicious! There are also a LOT of large fragments of fruit that the squirrels are discarding in their quest for the nuts.

I had asked God if please maybe I could get enough apricots for one batch of jam, please, evenif the squirrels had the rest. Just one?

As I picked up windfalls the other night, I kept looking at those lovely big seedless chunks. I started picking them up--a little brown on the edges, but otherwise fresh-seeming. An idea started to form, and I called to consult with Mom: Would YOU let all that apricot rot, or would you pick up the pieces and stew them half to death and make jam with them? Mom gave the go-ahead.

So I carefully trimmed the bad spots off, and boiled up the scraps with some windfall green apples. Sweetened to taste, WOW is that ever good! I ended up with 4 1/2 pints, which is already being shared with the main farm volunteers.

Tonight I just trimmed, cooked, and pureed the harvest of scraps, and put three bags (= 3 batches of jam = about 15 pints) in the freezer.

God MORE than answered my plea for apricots, but I had to be willing to accept His terms: His squirrels eat, too. I'm so grateful that I was able to see that there was enough for all of us...it would have been so easy to think they had gotten all the fruit again.

I'm also accumulating black raspberries in the freezer for jam. By freezing fruit or puree, I can do the hot, steamy work of making and canning jam when I WANT the heat and humidity, not when I'm running the air conditioner. And I can do it around my work schedule more easily.

It's a lot of work. But so satisfying. And SO delicious.


Catlady said...

Oh, you are so right about everything in God's time...

I keep thinking how even though it took me an extra year+ to get my job, the things I learned in that year made me so much better prepared for the demands... :)

Enjoy your jam. I'll think of you now every time I see apricots...

Paul Page said...

Randomly came across your blog while trying to research a future fruit tree purchase. I was encouraged. I was also reminded of ways in which my own beliefs are inconsistent. I trust God to take care of me and I feel like insurance is sort of cheating. At the same time I would probably shoot the squirrels to keep them off of my apricots.

We're all in this together and it's good to be reminded of that.