I feel so fortunate today for the generosity of people—and the several hundred apples in Gregg’s parents’ garage just waiting to be peeled and made into applesauce, apple cobbler, dried apple slices, and possibly apple jelly.
We arrived at Ruth’s house in Aurora yesterday afternoon, severe thunderstorms threatening, and with her help managed to pick several bags full while the storm, which was pouring down in another part of town just a few miles away, passed us by without incident.
We made Ruth’s acquaintance through this blog. After listening to a piece about urban foraging on NPR that welcomed folks to be generous with their wild edibles, she searched online and found us instead. I don’t mind one bit. “That’s because I integrated Facebook and made you findable!” Gregg exclaimed gleefully upon hearing the news. (This is true; thanks be to Gregg for the web savvy.)
And these were no gnarled, deformo apples either; they are in fact quite lovely—smooth, robust and ripe for the picking. The tree was obviously cultivated at one point, although Ruth said it gave few apples for many years until her son pruned it back last summer, and it is now going “wild” with fruit.
(To be honest, I’m not sure the apples actually qualify to be on this blog, since they are not in fact wild plants—but it’s my ramble after all and I’ll do what I want with it!)
Apple-picking is a great opportunity for conversation, and eventually there was some talk about where everybody’s from—Gregg and I living up in the mountains and all, and Ruth having some family of her own in parts higher up.
“My sister lives in Minturn,” she mentioned off hand.
To which Gregg replied, “Oh I have some good friends in Minturn—Carl and Juli.”
“That’s my sister,” said Ruth, almost matter-of-factly.
Are you kidding me? Ha!
Not only did Ruth have beautiful apples, but she also had a lawn full of goosefoot and purslane. “I don’t believe in pesticides,” she said. “Sometimes I think my lawn looks ugly, but I don’t want to spray anything.” Ugly? I’d kill for a lawn full of purslane and fruit trees! (In fact I tried transplanting purslane to our back yard at 11,000 feet last summer, but it doesn’t appear to like the altitude.) And of course the pesticide-free ethic pleases a wild food aficionado like yours truly to no end.
“Do you mind if I take just a little purslane too?” I asked, tiptoeing around the place like a kid in a candy store who can’t decide what to eat next, proffering it up for Ruth and her son to try. They took it and gobbled it down like wild food experts. “It’s good in soup or raw in salads,” I told them, “though it is a bit mucilaginous.”
“I think we’re going to try eating that one,” Ruth replied, inviting me to pick some for myself too. Bonus!