Plum Crazy

The prune plums are in season now, so I bought a box of them from the local farmer’s market. As a kid, I loved eating them plain, skin and all, with their sticky sweetness running over my fingers and down my chin. By some oddly-unintentional coincidence, I’d often eat them while sitting in an actual plum tree, an old, gnarled one that never produced fruit, but that bloomed in pristine white every spring. It grew on the island in the middle of our street.

Its dark foliage shaded me from the sun, and from every wound or gash it bled sticky sap that hardened into amber-hued globules that added to the texture of the tree. If you caught the sap at just the right time, you could press your fingers into it and leave a fingerprint. Bees would swarm around the sap, but never bothered me.

Up on the second main trunk, the one that leaned low to the ground after years of growth, heavy snows, and climbing kids, I sat and ate my plum, gnawing the flesh and skin around the pit then tossing the latter to the grass below. It was the end of summer. School would start soon, but for that moment there was just a plum and a boy in a tree.

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