When someone comes to visit or work on the farm they bring a new perspective; they notice things we don’t see, and occasionally they find treasures. Friends and workers have presented us with a variety of their discoveries: antique glass chicken eggs, native artifacts, enormous horseshoes from draft animals, chunks of coal from a blacksmith’s forge, and most recently an heirloom fruit tree.
Nathan Kice has been reading the blog, and last week he and his wife Michelle visited the farm with a group of other out of town relatives and guests. Everyone was in The Dalles to attend a family wedding. Nathan had a lot of questions about our projects, and so he was eager to get out of the house and explore our land.
Eight of us took a short hike with the donkeys to see the lowers fields and ponds. Whirling with inquisitiveness, Nathan was commenting on the character of the land, the soil, plants, trees, shrubs, birds, fencing, bird feeding stations, and the ponds.
When we reached the lower ponds Nathan turned left while everyone else turned right to go and look at the pond and the massive blackberry patch. The donkeys followed the crowd, and I heard Nathan say, “Oh, you have plums.” I said, “What do you mean?”
He pointed to a small Italian plum tree, which sat shrouded by towering black walnut trees, a pile of rocks, underbrush, and downed branches. A dozen or so rosy-aubergine orbs hung down from several slender branches. Backlit by the afternoon sun, the plums glowed like living jewels. How had I missed this?
Nathan said, “Hey is there any poison oak back there?”
“No, the poison oak is all across the creek,” I said.
Nathan was already striding through the brush and picking his way around the rock pile to pick one of the plums. He bit into it. “Not quite ready,” he said, and trudging back, he handed the other half to me. The plum’s flesh below the rich rose-blue skin was deep yellow and tasted piquant though not fully sour. Tangy now, in a few days the plums would be ripe.
And, so, with this in mind, and an enormously grateful heart for Nathan’s find, I went back several mornings later to the little tree and picked enough plums to make a clafouti for our twenty-first wedding anniversary. We celebrated the event by staying home and we made dinner together (which is a rarity since I mainly do all the cooking). I enjoyed this anniversary so much, because we created something together instead of leaving the farm to have someone else give us their meal. On our night we enjoyed filet mignon, grilled lobster tail, green beans, salad, and a magnificent and delicious French custard tart made with Nathan’s plums.