One of the lovely things about living in our street is the plum trees that line it. In spring they are quite simply breathtaking. Then in summer there are the plums to eat or make into jam and fruit sauce.
Henry loves the plum trees and spends a good many summer evenings dragging a step ladder around the neighbourhood, filling buckets with the juicy fruit. Sometimes he offers plums to our neighbours. Sometimes he just sits in a tree and eats them.
So imagine his distress late last winter when a letter from the council fell into our mailbox, informing us the plum trees were scheduled for the chop. They were to be replaced by low-growing magnolias, already planted and thriving in the council nursery. Henry was devastated. Every day we rounded the corner on the way home from school, expecting carnage. But nothing. And eventually, after a month of nothingness, we stopped worrying, watched the plum trees blossom and dreamed about summer plums.
In late October, at our annual street party, talk quickly turned to plum trees and the truth came out. Everyone in our street hates the plum trees and the execution notice was the result of a 2 year letter-writing campaign. There were complaints about the branches hitting power lines, the mess on the footpaths and the clouds of flies that descend. The only reason the plum trees were still standing was because of one objection, one neighbour who likes the way the blossom looks. Everyone else was livid because the complainee lives in a back section and doesn’t even have a plum tree to clean up after!
So Henry has been on a mission this summer – to save as many plums as possible and to keep the mess off the footpath. And he has, by and large, succeeded. He has even converted some neighbours and Henry is not the only one to be seen on a summer evening filling a bucket with plums.
This is our favourite way to eat them, Rote Grutze which is like a red fruit sauce made with plums and strawberries and rhubarb. Brilliant with ice cream although I think this could be the last summer we get the plums for free. Our neighbours are pretty persistent.