We had to stay one step ahead of the squirrels this year. Last year, they hoovered up every last apricot on our tree with astonishing speed. One day the tree was laden, and before we could blink, the fruit vanished.
This year marks 20 years that we’ve lived in our house. The squirrels are new to the ‘hood, arriving within the last three or four seasons. They are not entirely welcome due to their thievery. So we plucked all the fruit last week—a bit smaller and greener than we would have liked—before they could abscond with it.
“Are you going to make jam today?” David inquired as he was leaving for work the morning after the harvest. I said yes, but Mel Brooks would have termed that “a false lie.” I couldn’t gear myself up to make the jam that day. It’s a big job, and a hot one, and although I enjoy it, sterilizing jars, pitting and chopping pounds of fruit and stirring pots of jam doesn’t fit in the middle of the week along with everything else to be done on a workday. But by Thursday, I decided to tackle the job.
“Put on some music and crack a beer,” David advised when I told him I was going to make the jam before the fruit spoiled. That man knows how to make a party out of any routine responsibility. No beer, 11 hours, and multiple KPCC shows later, there were 19 jars of lovely apricot preserves—just fruit, not too much sugar, and a bit of lemon.
We’ll give some away and save the rest to smear on toast, stir into yogurt, and liven up otherwise dull peanut butter sandwiches. We’re profligate with it now. But around December when we’re down to the last jar or two, we’ll dole it out more carefully, the bright color a souvenir of the not-quite-summer day when we outwitted the squirrels.