Fruits of My Labor

We have so many peaches and green grapes this year, I could open a fruit stand. Our apricot trees are finally old enough to start producing, but I only found three or four on them. Our newly planted apple tree had two apples on it. God has been sending a lot of water our way this year, and the garden likes God water better than SAWS water.

One thing you might notice in the above paragraph is my use of past tense. I have a new hobby. I grow bird food. Yep. The apricots mysteriously disappeared, the apples are gone, and if you look closely at the grapevine, you’ll find lots of clusters with one or two grapes left on them. If you’ve followed the blog, you know in the past we had pigeon problems, but the pigeons eventually moved somewhere else. And now…they’re back.

Ed came in fussing the other day because the back patio was full of birds eating the cat food we leave out for the stray cats. He shooed them off. I’m almost positive they returned as soon as he shut the back door. Probably snickering at his foolishness. And the stray cats? Worthless. The pigeons are all over the patio, and the cats ignore them. I honestly think one could walk over a cat to get to their food and said cat would just yawn and go back to doing whatever it is stray cats do. Sleeping mostly, is my guess. And not dreaming about catching a bird, because…well… Hello! The birds are right there, prime for the picking, if they’d just act like a normal cat. I’ve been tempted to put a TV out there and stream Sylvester and Tweety cartoons ad nauseam, but they’d probably just ignore that, too.

I’ll admit to having mixed emotions about the birds versus garden issue. There is the most spectacular cardinal hanging around. If he wants grapes, I’ll gladly handfeed them to him, just so he’ll continue showing up. Pigeons? Uh…nope. I do enjoy watching any bird, but about the only thing a pigeon is good for is pooping every place and eating all my fruit. Yes, I know squab is a delicacy, but I’m not raising pigeons, nor do I plan on grabbing them when they’re young and sending them off to market. My days of working on my dad’s pigeon farm are long gone.

I’ve noticed something else about the birds. They don’t limit themselves to an endless supply of fruit. I’ve found a half-eaten tomato or two before I could grab it off the vine and bring it to the safety of my kitchen. Safety might be a stretch, because a vine-ripened tomato isn’t safe around me. In fact, they’re lucky if they make it as far as the kitchen. I know one thing, though. If the birds start nibbling on my black-eyed peas, I’m moving into the back yard. You can find me out there with a recliner, TV and shotgun. And just in case you’re wondering—jalapenos, onions, and cilantro are not preferred bird food. Evidently, they’ve never discovered the wonders of Pico de Gallo. Their loss.

There is something singularly spectacular about growing stuff. Need a bell pepper? Go outside. Want a green onion? Go pick your own. Craving a baked potato? Dig one up and cook it. Although you might want to make sure they’re ready, unless you’re baking for elves. I’m not the only one who thinks growing your own food is great. Our great granddaughters have discovered the joys of backyard farming. They are thrilled to know grapes are readily available, assuming they can beat the birds to them. The downside of them knowing Grandma is growing food is they eat the blackberries before I can get to them.

It’s so peaceful in the garden. Makes you wonder why Adam and Eve could so easily give up living in one. Given my option, I’d be out there all the time, if we didn’t live in Texas and it wasn’t 400 degrees in the shade. How they could give up all that great food and peaceful lifestyle escapes me. And for an apple? Maybe an apricot or cantaloupe, but apple? The only reason I even planted apple trees was for Ed. It’s never been on my list of favorite fruits.

My happy place is walking the backyard, hose in hand, watering trees, talking to plants, and generally enjoying the serenity. What’s amazing is that we live in the suburbs and it’s quiet. For some reason, when I go out there, I don’t hear anything other than the occasional train whistle or a random dog barking. If the sun is doing its thing, which it always seems to be, I can make rainbows with the hose. The absolute last thing I would want to do is get distracted by some serpent and have to leave my garden.

From everything I’ve read about cats, they may keep snakes at bay. Pretty sure they’re talking about harmless garden snakes and not a rattler, but I’ll take what I can get. If true, that’s why I haven’t seen a serpent hanging from a tree tempting me with an apple. Or maybe that’s why the apples disappeared. The birds are keeping me from temptation. Whoever is doing it, I’m thankful I won’t be tempted to go the Adam and Eve route in life and give away my happy place for a life of uncertainty. No apple on earth is worth all that misery. A pineapple maybe, but definitely not an apple.

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