Fruit, and an amazing crop circle

Just for fun, the Fruit Gods did something to the Italian prune trees this year, and there was a kind of tidal wave of blue plum fruit.

Italian prune tree

We must preserve it all, Mr O declared.

There’s nowhere to put it, Linnie responded. (She thought of the kitchen, where the cupboards offered no space.)

We can put it in a basement cupboard, Mr O suggested.

Don’t be ridiculous, Linnie proclaimed. We can’t put nice new jars of food into the dark cobwebby chaotic needing-cleaning basement. But, she added, we could bring that cabinet upstairs.

They had talked about that cabinet before. It is what could kindly be called a “primitive” piece. It came with the house and was doubtless handmade by some previous inhabitant for storing jars of previously canned food in a much previous time.

Mr O thought the cupboard belonged in the cellar for miscellaneous storage, but the pressure of the vast prune crop convinced him. OK, he said. Let’s bring up the cupboard.

It will need paint, Linnie feared aloud…

Extracting the cabinet from the basement was a horrific job. Somehow it was too tall to bring up the inside stair–it had to go up the outside stair.  And with great difficulty. I won’t go into the details but it involved a winch, a piano board and rollers.  (No one died.)

Then, in the cold light of day, both Mr O and Linnie could see the desperate extent of the cabinet’s need for refinishing.

canning cabinet projectYou paint it, Linnie suggested.

But no, Mr O had work to do for paying clients. Damn…

Deep in a shelf corner there was a spotted little label with a woman’s penciled writing: Strawberry Jam, June 1941. It had always been a fruit cupboard.

1941 jam label

So yes I painted it– primed white, then shiny white inside and dark green outside. I judge it was about a square mile of surface, counting all the shelves and coats of paint. A lot of work for a person who has given up painting.

canning cabinet painted

Then we canned millions of the little blue fruits but they didn’t fill up the immense cupboard. Now we are canning white fruits (pears) and yellow fruits (peaches).  “Living off the land” except we bought the peaches. Outside I see squirrels running around doing the same sort of stocking up. At least they don’t have to paint their trees.

canned fruit in cupboard

I also cut the greenhouse basil and froze some pesto, at which time there was a little frog, Trying Not to be Seen.

greenhouse frog and cut basilThe Italian prunes remain endless.

We made  jam and we chopped some to freeze for crumble, which Tillie insisted must include 2 tablespoons of Chambord raspberry liqueur mixed into the fruit. Excellent.

plum crumble

That’s it for all the normal, healthy news.

WTF department:

I went outside today, to water a border. My view over the picket fence, a half mile or so to the south,  revealed a very creative crop circle effort by the hayfield’s farmer.

Western Oregon crop circlesRemarkable, don’t you think? Clearly, it’s a…lamp post. Or a nuclear bomb. Or a fountain. Or something.

crop circle Oregon

About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
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38 Responses to Fruit, and an amazing crop circle

  1. I don’t envy the paint job… I do, though, suffer the pangs of preserved fruit envy; it looks amazing with a full cupboard like that!

  2. Roberta says:

    Gosh, I was so taken by your ambitious project – the moving of the cupboard, the priming, the painting, the preserving and it all looks so perfect and beautiful and then…the horror of the “crop circle”. Hmmm….it looks a little, I don’t know. Maybe sometimes a crop circle is just a crop circle.

    • linniew says:

      Crop circles by their nature are crop circles and something else as well. Like a painting is a painting and is also, say, a sunflower, or an abstract design.

      Today I felt that my neighbor’s crop circle might have been the work of space aliens with an odd sense of humor.

  3. Claudia says:

    What a great find – the original owner would be pleased. You did a great (hard) job even before you starting canning. Sweet rewards on every shelf. Congrats.

    • linniew says:

      Thanks Claudia–
      I kind of wanted to leave the cabinet empty. But that would have been odd, since the kitchen table was covered with canned fruit. The other thing I wanted to do was to saw the cabinet into two more manageable smaller units. It’s at times like this that I need Photoshop tools for the real world.

  4. Grace says:

    The view, even if that crop circle is a bit too cryptic for my imagination is amazing. I love the vintage label. I hope you’re keeping it. I’m curious where you ended up putting the newly-improved (despite your loathe of the paintbrush) cupboard. I’m glad you were able to get it up from the basement without any deaths.

    Love your little resident frog.

    • linniew says:

      Yes, finally we have a view of something.

      The cupboard went into a little room called “the historic kitchen” because it was once the kitchen but now isn’t. It’s a contentious piece of real estate within the house, much disputed as to use, but adjacent to the kitchen so we can grab a jar of fruit on a moment’s notice–in case any emergencies of that sort arise, you know, like a potholder fire or something.

  5. Katie says:

    Your crop circle caused me to have an Austin Powers moment. In my imagination Woody Harrelson said “Oh, my Lord! Look at that thing!” The cupboard is beautiful, the preserves even more so. If I were you, I’d leave the doors open all the time just to look at the pretty jars!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Katie
      While I wouldn’t call it my crop circle, I completely agree with your mental remark. (What were they thinking?)

      I like the colors of the jars of fruit, and sometimes I do open the cupboard to sort of check on them.

  6. Lyn says:

    Giving up painting isn’t going so well, is it? I’m glad nobody died, though. That old label is pretty special. Did you keep it? Love the little frog, the crop not-a-circle less so.

    • linniew says:

      Hi there Lyn!
      I am thinking of varnishing the old jam label onto the interior of the cupboard. It deserves preservation as much as the fruit does perhaps.

      A crop circle looking like a frog might be better do you think?

      xo L

  7. kininvie says:

    Dear Linnie, Faced with all that work, I’m surprised you didn’t insist on preserving some of those plums in brandy. Or gin. Maybe you did? Your crop circle has given me ideas. Unfortunately, I’ve finished mowing the bank for this year. But next year awaits. I might get some new readers of the inflatable banana kind….

    • linniew says:

      Odd you should mention it Kininvie because for a moment I did consider brandy. Gin with peaches sounds dreadful, but then I have never bonded with martinis either.

      I look forward to your crop circle design next year. (If you get arrested remember it isn’t my fault.)

  8. Alberto says:

    Where should I start? Well I’ll start from the bottom, as usual: that cock circle aw hum cough crop circle has a very curious shape… As far as I know they are made by the landing of some UFO, right? I wonder how the rest of the spaceship would have looked like…
    But let’s get back to the plums… Italian? Really? They don’t look jammed nor marmeladed, so I guess you are preserving with some kind of spirit? I wonder if someone will find your cupboard say like in 2085 with some of your plums still inside… You are really leaving your mark in this world!

    PS: don’t forget the olive if you are preserving with Martini!!!

    • linniew says:

      I am so mad that I didn’t get to see the spaceship that you say made the crop circle. I must pay more attention next time.

      Yes the plums are called Italian, very sweet and freestone too. They are put into jars with a light syrup (sugar and water), then the jars are cooked in a water bath after which the lids seal. So they are not pickled with gin or anything else and will be long gone by 2085. (Me too.) But we did make jam, sealed similarly.

      Such appalling, outrageous comments you make Alberto–it’s nice to have you back!

      • Alberto says:

        Appalling? Outrageous? Darling I’d like to remember You are talking to an angel here (just like Annie Lennox…), especially if you compare myself to those aliens messing around the fields…

        • linniew says:

          I am thinking that knowing an angel could come in handy. I’ll count on you to put in a good word for me when I stand at the gate Alberto.

          • kininvie says:

            Those Italian plums are actually damsons, which is the proper name for them, please note, and if you preserve them in gin, they are very, very, refreshing (hic!)

            • linniew says:

              Dear Kininvie,
              When you recover from the gin, or plums and gin, you might google one more time and see that Damsons are not the same as Italian prunes. They seem to be cousins, but Italian prunes are gold/amber inside and VERY sweet while Damsons are described as more green and tart. Just so you know how incessantly proper I am.


  9. Andrea says:

    Hi Linnie, that’s a lot of fruits, and that’s a lot of preserves. I can’t imagine how everything will be finished, unless given to friends. And your field mower is a bit an exhibitionist or trying to make a joke, haha! I love this fun post, but not the painting and the moving of the cabinet.

    • linniew says:

      I pretty much agree with you on all counts Andrea. As usual I like the new paint but didn’t like applying it. The cupboard makes all the canning easily accessible so perhaps we will remember to eat it up in a reasonable time. Sometimes I do give home-canned fruit away…

  10. b-a-g says:

    I’m worried about Mr.O and yourself living in a house with so many prunes. Hopefully, they don’t have the same reputation as in the UK.

    • linniew says:

      Oh b-a-g, fruit is pretty much fruit I think. Bodies can deal with it. Prunes are at least as versatile in cooking as apples. And at the same time they aren’t as dangerous as, say, sharp knives or religion. I hugely appreciate your concern though!
      xo L

  11. cynthia says:

    I’m very impressed with all your canning, and painting, and crop circle viewing! I wish I had a crop circle nearby to speculate about . . .

  12. All very funny. My husband and son had immediate thoughts about the crop circle…. I am jealous of all your fruit and the cabinet—how industrious.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Carolyn
      Men. They think they know stuff. Could be just random driving by an intoxicated farmer? Yes that was a lot of canning. I may just make hard cider from the apples.

  13. Alistair says:

    Linnie, seems to me that you are in denial of your passion for painting wooden objects. Truly a work of art and I sure like your plums. I get a feeling that it wouldn’t have been the farmer himself who was responsible for the rather unusual crop circle. It may be a zoomed in likeness of The Cerne Abbas Giant,

    • linniew says:

      I must admit to researching the Cerne Abbas Giant, which I see is sometimes called the Rude Man. Our local crop circle is definitely reminiscent of him! But the crop circle endured for only two days (it got mowed) while the Rude Man looks pretty permanent!

      • The Cerne Giant is not far from where I live – in the same county – though I’ve never heard him called ‘The Rude Man’ before! I don’t know why he is on the hill or even from when he really dates but, looking at him, one assumes either aggression (he’s brandishing a club) or fertility. Fertility seems pretty appropriate in a harvestable field. Round here, it’s possible to buy a clock in which the giant’s ‘moving part’ (we’ll put it that way!) is the minute hand of a clock which bears his portrait.

        • linniew says:

          Those clocks would make excellent gifts for some people. Not so much for others I expect. I’ll not call him the Rude Man anymore since clearly this is not what he’s called at home!

  14. What disconcerting neighbours you have! Where have you put your cabinet? Not still in the open air? Or is it back in a newly swept out cellar? Seems you will have enough bottled fruit to open a hotel.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Lucy!
      We tucked the giant cabinet into a room off the kitchen so no worries about the rain on it. And I agree it is too much fruit, but Mr O assures me it will be used within the year. We shall see…

  15. Rachelle says:

    What was the thought process with your strange neighbors? Company logo? Just to get his neighbors (you) upset?

    • linniew says:

      Oh, how will we ever know? It is entertaining to imagine possible circumstances, although if the goal was to upset neighbors, well it failed with me.

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