(SFX: All Her Favorite Fruit, Camper Van Beethoven)

Nectarines are, to me, the quintessential summer fruit. Like the character in Bradbury's 'Dandelion Wine' who waited, ear tuned, to hear the first strains of the rusty lawnmower (evoking all the sounds and sensations of a summer morning), each time I bite into a nectarine and the juice gets all dribbley down my arm, I am in the summer. In fact, when we were living in Scotland, trying to decide if we should stay permanently, one of the factors that decided things for me was the lack of juicy, ripe fruit. (Being on the same latitudinal lines as Moscow meant that most fruit was of the hard unripe variety. And avocados were usually $5.00 a piece!) When we got home, the Elevens left on our kitchen counter a big box of ripe peaches, plums and nectarines from the farmer's market downtown. I stood in our kitchen, 3 months pregnant, weary from the long plane ride, and wept, nectarine juice running down my sleeve and chin. As far as summer stone fruit goes: apriums (1/4 plum:3/4 apricot), pluots (3/4 plum:1/4 apricot), are interesting, and plums & apricots themselves get a close second, but the nectarine is where it is at.


Camille said...

nectarines are one of my favorites, too. Nothing like driving down 5 and stopping at a farmstand and getting a flat of them, and then arriving home, sticky and with a big box of pits.

Anonymous said...

First nectarines, now Dandelion Wine. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

And so, I leave you with this:

Grandma, he had often wanted to say, Is this where the world began? For surely it had begun in no other than a place like this. The kitchen, without doubt, was the center of creation, all things revolved about it; it was the pediment that sustained the temple.
Eyes shut to let his nose wander, he snuffed deeply. He moved in the hell-fire streams and sudden baking-powder flurries of snow in this miraculous climate where Grandma, with the look of the Indies in her eyes and the flesh of two firm warm hens in her bodice, Grandma of the thousand arms, shook, basted, whipped, minced, diced, peeled, wrapped, salted, stirred.

Blind, he touched his way to the pantry door. A squeal of laughter rang from the parlor, teacups tinkled. But he moved on into the cool underwater green and wild-persimmon country where the slung and hanging odor of creamy bananas ripened silently and bumped his head. Gnats fizzed angrily about vinegar cruets and his ears.
He opened his eyes. He saw bread waiting to be cut into slices of warm summer cloud, doughnuts strewn like clown hoops from some edible game. The faucets turned on and off in his cheeks. Here on the plum-shadowed side of the house with maple trees making a creek-water running in the hot wind at the window he read spice cabinet names. . . .

“Cayenne, marjoram, cinnamon.”
The names of lost and fabulous cities through which storms of spice bloomed up and dusted away.
He tossed the cloves that had traveled from some dark continent where once they had spilled on milk marble, jack-stones for children with licorice hands.
And looking at one single label on a jar, he felt himself gone round the calendar to that private day this summer when he had looked at the circling world and found himself at its center.

The word on the jar was RELISH.
And he was glad he had decided to live.

RELISH! What a special name for the minced pickle sweetly crushed in its white-capped jar. The man who had named it, what a man he must have been. Roaring, stamping around, he must have tromped the joys of the world and jammed them in this jar and writ in a big hand, shouting RELISH! For its very sound meant rolling in sweet fields with roistering chestnut mares, mouths bearded with grass, plunging your head fathoms deep in trough water so the sea poured cavernously through your head. RELISH!

He put out his hand. And here was—SAVORY. . . .

Douglas moved deeper into pantry darkness.

“Savory. . . that’s a swell word. And Basil and Betel. Capsicum. Curry. All great. But Relish, now, Relish with a capital R. No argument, that’s the best.”


rosa said...

I know. Dandelion Wine is in a class by itself. I knew I would love my sister in law's boyfriend when he told me that how he came to read that book. In high school, his English teacher assigned each student a book based on their personality. And he was assigned Dandelion Wine. He loved it, which says that the teacher was pretty astute. I loaned my copy out years ago and never got it back so I'm always looking for a cheap copy. It's hard not to have a copy of one of your favorite books! And I'm coming to your baby shower!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.