TREE RIPENED FRUIT

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Have you ever bitten into a tree ripened bright orange apricot? The kind that melts in your mouth?

Have you tasted the juiciness of fruit so fresh and so ripe that you felt just like heaven on earth? Have you waited every year for the sweetness and ripeness of a plum, purple, red or yellow, that you knew had just come from a farmers orchard near you?

This week Bob and I stopped at a local farm market just three miles from our house, hoping that the softer fruits were coming on line for us to enjoy. For as long as we’ve been married (25 years) we had always eaten all of the wonderful fruit that we grew ourselves.

After the farm was sold some seven years ago it just wasn’t the same. Finding another farm where they let the fruit hang on the tree until actually ripe proved to be difficult. The farmers that sell for the main markets are encouraged to pick it early to avoid spoilage. Consequently the sugar never develops and the fruit never has quite the same quality.

So this week I got the urge for apricots until I couldn’t stand it anymore. One of my main jobs at the Muskegon Farmers Market where we had several stalls was sorting and boxing the small fruits, so I became very nostalgic about it. Off we went and there in Hart was a local market selling plums, peaches, and apricots. They had samples for people to try. It didn’t take me long to find an ultra ripe apricot! We loaded up on small boxes and headed for home, and have been enjoying them ever since.

But just this morning it hit me! I had grown accustomed to not going to market to work 3 times a week. I missed the people and I sure missed my fellow workers, but until I bit into that apricot I had forgotten that we really had it all. The Farmers Market was practically our whole life, selling fruit and pleasing people, and I really am thankful that we could do it for so long. It developed in me an appreciation for the lives of the farmers who give their all every day so that everyone else can enjoy the fruits of their labor.

When our customers raved about the sweetness of our fruit we smiled and we were happy they liked it.

But until I bit into the apricot this week I had put some of the memories off into the back of my mind. Now they are out in full force and cannot be denied.

We really did have it all, and for everyone that played a huge or even a small part in the life of our fruit we do thank you. We hope that you will look upon it as fondly as we do. Everyone that drove a tractor, or picked the fruit or stood at the counter we do thank you. and everyone that bought the sweetness of Michigan fruit from us, we do thank you. And we miss you.

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