When we took possession of our house at the end of the pavement on Cummings Lane eight years ago, our eight apples trees and one plum tree were in desperate need of pruning and watering and feeding.
The plum tree, a spindly-limbed variety unfamiliar to me, made no plums the first year of our residency, and though she blossomed well the second year produced just a few plums that identified her as a prune plum.
The third year, the plum tree again had a nice blossom set and made about twenty plums. As these plums neared ripeness, ravens helped themselves to most of the fruit before we could pick the remaining handful.
The slender branches of the plum grew leggy and crowded, so I pruned the tree as I had pruned countless other plum trees, but this plum reacted to my pruning by giving no fruit in the fourth year.
So I did not prune the tree at all the following winter, and in our fifth year the plum tree rewarded us with a few dozen tasty plums. The ravens came to dine again, so we harvested the plums before they were fully ripe and slightly tart.
That winter, I pruned a few competing branches, but otherwise allowed the branches to be leggy and more numerous than I would have had this tree been like other plum trees I have known.
In the sixth year, the plum tree gave us several dozen plums and the ravens took little of the bounty.
The seventh year was not a big plum year in Mendocino, but this year, our eighth, the plum tree made several hundred plums from which Marcia made delicious jam.
We labeled the jam skunk holler prune plum jam rather than fox hollow prune plum jam because the foxes that frequently showed themselves to us during our first few years here are rare now, while skunks traipse across our deck most evenings and stop to drink from the bowl of water at the feet of our statue of Ganesh.