Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[napa 2001] 1. plums from our tree

In the summer of 2001, I lived in a house surrounded by edible things for the first time in my life.

One of these things was plums, or rather, four of these things were plums. There was a small Italian prune plum tree, from which we plucked hard--almost juiceless--little oblong fruits with sharp pits.

And the other tree...that tree was magical. It was an amazing grafted concoction with three main branches, each a different variety. One branch was most favored, big-in-your-palm green-skinned monsters, crisp-skinned juicy with exploding fuschia flesh. Their bud-ends tapered, shaped like human hearts. I brought them to Copia for Jeff Dawson to identify, and he declared them Elephant Heart plums.

They changed my mind about plums, and I invented the double-stacked Elephant Heart Plum Upside-Down Cake to honor them. I'll add the recipe soon. Shocking pink layered with dense vanilla cake. I decorated the birthday cake platter with fresh baby fig leaves and pistachio marzipan figs the size of my little finger tip.

Story one, in a series of 48.

list from the summer of 2001, napa.

Found yesterday written on a scrap of a pale moss green envelope, from a letter never sent from Vineyard Lane:

written in order to exercise my obsession with itty bitty letters, on finding nothing suitable to quote.

excellent things this summer:
1. plums from our tree
2. peaches from our tree
3. dark chocolate sandwiches on sourdough
4. learning to embroider
5. being terrified of snakes
6. not losing sunglasses
7. being adored at work
8. new blue shirt
9. sewing projects
10. cabernet
11. ping pong potluck
12. point reyes picnic
13. belle & sebastian at green apple
14. the sun
15. the sky
16. the ocean
17. golden gate bridge
18. chrissy field
19. starfish
20. the stars
21. living with chickens
22. blue pie plate
23. meyer lemon cake
24. plum upside-down cake
25. small peach pies
26. farmers market
27. aspen
28. stripy grosgrain ribbon
29. humboldt fog cheese
30. fig season, however breif
31. riding to yountville
32. the new blue danube
33. my white light bedroom
34. bob and nadia
35. david sedaris
36. oak knoll
37. grilled pork loin
38. getting stuck with abby
39. erin
40. letters
41. squarepusher
42. baby rattlesnake
43. courtyard at work
44. kara
45. green socks
46. julia child
47. jeffery steingarten
48. not being at school and learning anyway

The summer was idyllic, a surprise of riches. Today begins an irregular recollection on each of the 48 glories of the summer of 2001, and what part the 48 magical things play in my life today. {Update: I'll add links to the list as they're completed.} My dearest Naya, I hope your summer in Napa is as lovely as mine. It was the first long stretch I recall being truly happy in.