Every day on my way home I drive past a crab apple tree so laden with fruit that the branches are almost bent all the way to the ground. I always think I should just pull over and eat some of those apples, but I never do - until last weekend. I was on my way to meet Jenn for coffee and that tree is right along my route as I walk to the coffee shop. So at just the right moment I casually reached over and snuck one. It was delicious! Since then I've been wanting to eat another. Last night, as I lay in bed doing my usual tossing and turning I was thinking about those apples. Eventually I reached some midstate between consciousness and dreaming and at this point those crab apples became my only topic of thought. If I was awake I was considering walking down the street to get one, and if I was dreaming, then I was already there eating one. (Normally I dream about Sasquatches, so crab apples were a welcome, and less scary, change of pace) It was some time before I fell into an actual sleep. I think what finally settled me down was that during all that tossing and turning my mind was racing and I ended up inventing a new late summer activity. I drifted into a blissful sleep right after I decided that when I woke up, I would Fruit Walk.
The rules of a fruit walk are simple:
1) You do not eat before a fruit walk.
2) You DO NOT eat before a fruit walk.
3) As you walk, eat fruit off people's trees.
I set out this afternoon with a full spirit and an empty stomach. I had literally been dreaming of this walk so I planned to make the best of it. I went straight for the nearby crab apples, and I grabbed two. They were no disappointment, and I was soon to find out that these apples were to set the tone for the entire fruit walk.
After about 20 minutes of walking I saw the biggest crab apples I've ever seen. They looked... well... they looked ripe for the pickin', so I did. Right next door was a more regular sized crab apple, but it was very orange in color, so I grabbed one of them as well. I noticed that this wasn't an apple at all. It was about the same shape as a plum, but smaller, and it was orange. I determined that it was a peach. After I finished the big crab apple I bit into this strange fruit. When I didn't die from it, I allowed the taste to swirl around in my mouth. It was a peach! I had no idea that peaches could even grow in Saskatoon, but was I ever happy that I'd discovered this on my very first fruit walk.
I couldn't stop thinking about that peach, and so as luck would have it after 20 more minutes of walking I saw a fruit stand up ahead. I walked over and saw man inside, packing up some corn into a wooden crate. I looked at my watch and it was 5:00 so I asked "Are you still open?"
The man turned around and said, "By Golly we sure are!"
So I said "Great! How much is a peach?"
"Peaches are 75 cents each, how many would you like?" and he gestured toward a bowl of things that looked an awful lot like what I had just eaten, but bigger and a lot less shiny. I looked over a bit and saw a different bowl with exactly what I was looking for in it.
"Well, I just want one, but can I have one of those peaches?" and I pointed towards this huge shiny reddish looking peach in the other bowl.
The man said, "That my dear, isn't a peach. That is a nectarine."
"Yes, a nect-arine" he repeated, pausing in the middle of the word. I thought he was going to follow it with 'not-apeach'.
"I had no idea." I said, feeling a little stupid.
"Yes ma'am," he said. He was old, and said stuff like "by golly" and "ma'am", "you can tell because a peach is covered in peach fuzz..."
"and nectarines are not." and with that he picked up a nectarine and handed it to me. When I took it from him he smiled, nodded, and turned back to his corn.
"Well. How much is a nectarine then?" I asked.
He gave me a half turn that allowed me to see his full smile and he said, "For you: no charge."
I offered to pay, but he wouldn't let me. So I thanked him and walked off with my shiny new nectarine. This was turning into the best Fruit Walk ever!
After I had finished the nectarine I was really quite full. I had eaten a lot of fruit, but the real reason was that I maybe broke a little bit of both rules 1 and 2 of a fruit walk. Even so, this was a fruit walk, so I kept my eyes peeled for more fruit. I didn't think I'd come close to repeating the nectarine (or peach) discovery, but I at least wanted to find some good apple trees for next time. I walked over to inspect some apples to find they were all shaped like lightbulbs (the non-energy-efficient kind). I realized lightning had struck twice on the same fruit walk. To my double-surpise I had found a pear tree! (no partridge jokes)
I couldn't resist, I plucked one from it's branch. It was quite tiny for a pear and I noticed it was very hard. It was far from ready to eat, but who knows if pears grown in Saskatoon would ever be ready, so I bit into it. It was so sour I had to spit it right out, but I wasn't disappointed. If those pears ever do ripen you can bet I'll be there on a future Fruit Walk to eat one.