Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fear of fruit

The bare winter branches of our fig tree.

We have a few trees in our yard and many of them are fruit-bearing: peach, fig, apricot, pear, olive, feijoa, plum, mandarin, orange.

We have an ordinary suburban block, but it is amazing how much you can fit in, especially if the trees stay small.

Many of these trees were already here when we bought the house but some of them we planted ourselves. When I say 'we', I mean Kim.

I don't know a lot about trees. When I paint them, I'm more interested in them as symbols, rather than creating a scientific, botanical representation of them. I don't know much about the different species or the practicalities of maintaining them.

And I don't know a lot about gardening in general. Actually, nothing. It's Kim who has the green thumb in this house.

Last night we were talking about what to plant in the vegie patch for summer. Kim suggested a white-board system where we can list what we have in the garden, know what's coming up for harvest, and can plan what we are going to do with it: what to cook, preserve or give away.

In the middle of this discussion I asked him not to plant things that produced too much fruit. 'Like that year we had all that zucchini,' I said. 'What can you do with so much zucchini?'

Every time I looked at that plant, new fruit was ripening before my eyes every single day. I felt overwhelmed and defeated. When you are searching the web for sweet zucchini cake recipes, you know you're desperate.

I went on: the tomatoes - I feel like I need a machete to harvest them. And the peaches, there are so many peaches! I feel so stressed with all those peaches.

Kim just looked at me, slightly amused.

Yeah, I know. First world problems.

Then I started thinking about it. And realised how sometimes I might apply that thinking to other areas of my life.

I don't want to plant the fruit because then I will have to do something with it. I will have to pick it, cook it, or clean it up from the lawn if it drops. But is that a good reason not to plant the fruit?

Why am I so worried about what the plant will produce? Can't I just enjoy the garden?

And maybe the fruit ends up being a problem. But only if I make it one.

Why fear the fruit? Why not just enjoy it?

Do you see where I'm going with this metaphor?

No, me neither.

Anyway, I think there's a lesson in there somewhere.