We're just looking for an honest days work, that's all. If you got any pickin' or somethin' like that. Me and my family we ain't lookin' for no trouble. It's this week every year when my family feels like the Joads. When the Mirabel plums start to drop in our front yard, I feel the need to strap the mattress to the side of the Prius and head on out to the dusty bowl, looking for a place to bed down for the night where we can be free from the tyranny of the man. You know the man, or at least you might if you saw it in capital letters: The Man. Or as Tom refers to him "a guy."
The truth is, we're really not looking for work. The work finds us. If we let the plums fall on the ground and the lawn and the sidewalk, it's only a matter of time before they start to stink and rot. We used to have a little help in this matter. Our sainted doggy Maddie would gulp down a few dozen of these fetid treats, mostly when she noticed that we were busily doing everything we could to get them up off the grass. Food? Those are food? I'll be happy to help then.
We miss her, but we didn't miss the plums. They came back this year with a vengeance. They also came early this year. Something about the drought or Easter coming so late, but the first week of June is not when I look to be shaking the tree. And yet, there we were, with our tarps spread out in anticipation of all the gravity we could muster, encouraging those little yellow orbs from their tenuous connection to the twigs from which they had sprouted just a few weeks ago. If there were anybody in our household who enjoyed these gifts from the earth the way our absent dog used to, it might not seem like such an onerous task to pick them up. Instead, we took our places on the ladder and beneath the spreading branches, waiting for the inevitable plop, plop, plop of plums we couldn't be less interested in eating.
But somebody else will be. Thanks to Al Gore's Internet, my wife was able to find a local organization that would take these juicy treasures off our hands. We were also able to connect again with the elephant guy at the zoo, who will be happy to share our extra plum branches and twigs with his pachyderm pals. We're not going hungry, in the meantime, but wherever there's a plum waiting to be picked, I'll be there.