Family trips have always included numerous detours. One of my Dad’s favourite detours was to hunt for forgotten orchards. His favourites are the ones where you can find obscure fruits. These days we would call them heirloom. I’m forever pointing out the side roads to my dearest as he drives past them. Did you know that if you turn down the right side roads, greengage plums can be found just north of Paihiatua?
My parents have a collection of random fruit trees that came with their house. There is the strange peach tree, which has green flesh even when it is ripe and of course, the phantom plum tree. The phantom plum tree appears to be a Black Doris plum tree but the fruit mysteriously goes missing just as it gets ripe. Rumour has it, a woman who used to live in the house, was prone to visit the places she knew as a child in her wanderings. She has moved on in the last few years. While I have no idea where to, her house has been replaced by a new development and her slow shuffle is missing from our streets. This year the fruit stayed intact for long enough for us to try some and while it tasted great, I preferred the mystery of the phantom plum more. It grew to feel like some agricultural karma for our forgotten orchard raids.
I haven’t entirely grown out of forgotten orchard raids, however. As Dad and I climbed over fences to get to a wild plum tree, Mum turned to my dearest and pointed out “She’s her Dad’s Daughter, you know” to which my long suffering husband could only nod in agreement.