As we accelerate toward Fall and the apple as the dominant local fruit, I have to admit that this has been my favorite season to harvest and eat the wonderful variety of fruits we have had this year. What has made it my favorite has not been the abundance of the crops we have received, but rather the passion with which my granddaughter, Charlotte, enjoys them. When I or nearly any adult sinks their teeth into a perfectly ripe plum, we often take great care to gingerly handle the fruit and carefully bite it so all its sweet captured juices drip into our mouths. Not Charlotte. She grabs the fruit with a grip and intensity akin to that of a lion dispatching a wildebeest in the wild subsequently sinking her teeth into it for a quick and efficient kill.
Juice sprays in all directions and soon her arms are coated thick with rivulets of liquid; her face is covered with pieces of her prey, suspended near her mouth. But unlike the lion she is not satisfied with a single kill: she wants more and could eat a half dozen plums if I let her.
This summer Charlotte has been my trusty helper in the garden weeding, watering and harvesting. Harvesting is her forte as her tiny little hands and fingers seem ideally sized to grab a berry off a branch. She started with strawberries, moving on to raspberries and blueberries and now finishing the season in my blackberry patch. Because I am color blind she is an ideal helper as she can better identify the ripeness of a fruit than can I. This advantage is counterbalanced by her inability to put the berries in any container other than her mouth.
Like a flock of ravenous birds, she circles and attacks a berry-laden bush with dexterity and skill quickly locating the ripest of berries consuming each one. Though it appears that she is right-handed, when picking berries she displays an ambidextrous skill that is most troubling as she emulates a berry-picking machine.
“They belong in my tummy!,” she says holding an empty dish.
“No they belong in my tummy,” I retort.
“No my tummy!”
“No my tummy!” . . .
This witty repartee can go on forever with Charlotte and she smiles and giggles throughout it all. But even though our take-home harvest is down (way down) it pleases me that Charlottes takes such simple and elemental joy in eating fruit. She prefers fruit to many sweets though I would not want to put a plate of chocolate against a bowl of blueberries.
Between snacking in my garden and around our berry plants and bushes, Charlotte is eating well when at our house. And like the birds, there will come a season when she doesn’t visit us that much any more, which will increase my harvest and melancholy as my favorite predator has grown up and has found other gardens to explore.