A few weeks ago I came home from work to find the big plum tree in the garden bare, bereft of plums.  These plums were the best kind for eating; Victoria.  They were plump (sorry) and ripe for eating, but they were gone.  There was no evidence of the offender, no plums or stones on the ground.  This was the beginning of the mystery that is the great plum theft.

Birds were the first suspect.  The problem with the bird theory was that Victoria plums are quite large.  One remote possibility was a murder of rooks sweeping down and stripping the tree bare.

A human was the next suspect.  My jam mentor, ‘P’ at St George’s Market, was certain that a human was the culprit.  I assured her that this was impossible as the cottage is a little out of the way and the tree had been cleaned better than any human could achieve.  Last year I had to cut, melt, and bend a bit of pipe in order to get some of the high plums.  And even with my plastic pipe plum plucker (patent pending) I was not able to get every last plum.

On Friday ‘P’ informed me that she had discussed the matter with some of her friends and that the nasty thief was more than likely a squirrel.  It seems to be the most logical explanation even though I have never seen one near the garden.  Apparently it only takes a few rotting fruit and the right weather conditions to grab the olfactory attention of a squirrel.

This morning I tested one of the lesser plum trees.  It is an unknown type of plum that does not have the appeal of the victorias.   It was ripe so I stripped the tree (it’s not as tall as the other one) in the early hours of this morning.  We are a little weary of jam making and are searching for alternatives.  A plum crumble or two may use up the bulk of the crop but we decided to start with breakfast.  Tonight I put some of the plums in a pan with some honey and vanilla.  It sat on the very minimum of heat that our cooker could produce. After fifteen minutes the plums melted into themselves before they were scooped up into the fridge.  Tomorrow morning they will be added to a little yoghurt and granola for the finest of starts to the day.  I look forward to this, but I know that the joy will be empty.  I know that I will look to one of the jars of redcurrant jelly and I will be filled with longing.  A little redcurrant jelly with roasted squirrel would be the finest of breakfasts.

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