I’m a big fan of summer, mainly because it’s the season of fresh fruit. In these days of truck farms, long-haul transport, and supermarkets, you can buy most any fruit year round, but there’s something special about local fruits in their proper season.
Peaches, for instance. Our summer treks to visit family in Georgia inevitably take us through McBee, South Carolina, where we stop — both going and coming — at McLeod Farms, whose huge orchards are the source of “Mac’s Pride” peaches. We discovered that if you bypass the high-priced fruit stand by the road and drive on back to the packing shed, you can buy fresh peaches by the half-bushel box at wholesale prices. I like to bring loads of them home and share them as well as eat them.
And berries: Samuel and I have picked buckets of blueberries and blackberries this summer. The blueberries came from a couple of bushes in my parents’ back yard. The blackberries grow along the edge of a “sports field” (where no sports are played) that’s a common area for our subdivision. Fortunately, either I’m the only one who realizes what they are, or the only one willing to pick up a few scratches and ticks in return for a bucket of finger-staining, lip-smacking berries.
Speaking of lip-smacking, one of the best things about fruit is that you can make cobblers and pies with it. Lately I’ve been experimenting with a relatively healthy version of blackberry cobbler (in my mind, at least), using whole wheat flour and Splenda in place of most of the sugar and white flour. It’s a little chewier, but still good enough to put a grin on my face.
I’m anticipating other fruits: my fig tree looks really good this year, with a good crop of early figs that will ripen soon, and lots of smaller figs that will ripen in late summer. Few things are better than a fig straight from the tree — you can ask Jesus about that: the gospels suggest he was often quite disappointed when he looked for fruit on a fig tree and found none.
Even my carefully tended tomatoes are technically fruits. And, unlike the hothouse variety you can buy year-round, they have both texture and flavor. Some of them are even shaping up to be one-slice sandwich sized. Just the anticipation makes me smile.
You don’t have to look far in the Bible to find references to fruit: fruit is created in Genesis 1, and is featured both literally and metaphorically throughout. Psalm 1 reminds us that the wise will be like trees planted by water that produce their fruit in season. Jesus called for fruits of repentance (Mat. 3:8), and Paul memorably described the “fruits of the Spirit” as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
You can’t make cobbler from those, but you can make a fine life.