Bread for the Enemy

Many months ago I mused about my love for pomegranates. I wrote: “…And if you know me, I’ve tumbled across many a punica granatum. I hunt them out. I track them down. And I sit, and admire the red fruit from the car; it’s the thing that most tempts me toward thievery.”

So, wouldn’t you  know, that very thing–thievery–has come to strike my own tree, my own yard… Thieves have been about, and I’m not happy. Though I have thought about taking someone else’s fruit–yes, thought… I have never actually reached out and plucked.

But the story gets more sad and dreadful. Our beloved pomegranate tree is dying a slow but, it seems, inevitable death…

My husband and I have been using all our horticultural intellect to try to figure out the cause of this sad happening… The pomegranate tree (my favorite of all childhood fruits) a tree that was a birthday present many years ago from my parents–is just about at the branch-brittle stage. All summer we’ve watched our tree turn from green and lush

to weak and woeful…

Throughout this slow process of dying, the tree somehow managed to keep on its limbs about six pomegranates. We’ve picked one off a branch that was obviously dead, and were just about to pick two very round and gorgeous fruit that had fully ripened, but…

We returned from a long afternoon away, and the fruit was gone.

What sadness! Not only for the loss of the fruit, maybe the last fruit we would pick from that beloved tree, but sadness for the person who reached high into the branches, snitched the fruit, and tiptoed away.

What I’d really like to do is bake a nice loaf of sourdough for this person… They must need a friendly neighbor, a little dose of love, and I’d like to be someone who reaches out… Last Sunday in church, our pastor exhorted us to keep a peaceful heart–to hold captive any thoughts that enter your mind that might disturb the peace we so desperately need. “Hold those thoughts captive, and reject them!” I don’t want to think unhappy thoughts about you, my thief… So, if you swiped my pomegranates, and are reading this, leave a note on my porch, designate a time and place for the bread drop off, and I’ll bake for you.

Really. I will.

The Sharing of Pomegranates

One pain a la Suzanne. (Or Sister Bread. Or Jim Lahey’s No Knead Dough with 1/3 cup sour starter–it was sooooo good!)

Mixed: 9:15 pm Monday night

Folded: noon Tuesday

Molded: 12:20 pm

Baked: 2:30 pm

Split with The Pomegranate Lady

There’s this tree along a closed road here in Santa Barbara. I’m not telling which road–pomegranates are serious business with me. So, there’s this tree, the most lovely, inviting, fruit-bearing pomegranate tree I’ve ever tumbled across. And if you know me, I’ve tumbled across many a punica granatum. I hunt them out. I track them down. And I sit, and admire the red fruit from the car; it’s the thing that most tempts me toward thievery.

Every couple of years I get a phone call from my friend (who also adores pomegranates). She says, “The Pomegranate Lady called, Jane, and invited us to pick!”  This fruit picking day is one of the highlights of my life.

So, I loaded my kids into the car and met my friend and her three youngest along the roadside where the tree sits. We were greeted by Mary herself, who apologized for not having more fruit. Said this was a lean year. I looked at her tree. There were still more than a dozen juicy red pomegranates dangling from the branches. I looked in the bag. At least a dozen or more there. Oh, yes, lean years from full grown, mature trees, were just fine with me.

As I was about to drive away with my bag and kids bundled into the Volvo, dreaming of pomegranate jam and pomegranate syrup and fresh pomegranate seeds, I noticed the tempting smell of warm bread coming from the back of the car. My pain a la Suzanne had been forgotten in the midst of our picking (and the kids climbing the tree, and throwing Pooh sticks into the slow-moving river.) I had never thought of fresh bread as a good tool for bartering, but today I was relieved that I had something to give in thanks to this very generous woman.

And as I placed the loaf of fresh bread on the porch for Mary to find later, I thought of my own pomegranate tree, which is still just a babe, but will someday tumble into the roadside like Mary’s. And I wondered, when it’s big, if I’ll invite others over and allow them to drive away with bags of my prized fruit. I hope so, I pray so. I’d almost be an Indian-giver if I didn’t…

And what about you, I’d love to hear stories of your neighbors who share… Avocados? Zucchinis? Walnuts? Firewood or compost? What sort of neighborly give-and-take happens in your neck of the woods?