I like to let my fruit get really ripe before I eat it, perhaps because I like sweet things but also because I like intensely flavored things, too. This is a delicate endeavor as there is a fine line between ripe and rotting, and sometimes it only takes a slightly warmish afternoon in the kitchen to cross it. So it's important to be in a situation where you can keep an eye on things and pounce when the moment is right. Like the lovely bowl of apricots, pictured above. When I purchased them earlier in the week, they were hard and pale yellow, even greenish in places. When I checked them yesterday morning their skins were slightly wrinkled and they felt soft and heavy in my hand. I knew it was almost time.
But life is busy around here and there's a bunch of important things to do like find a more permanent place to live and figure out how I'm going to pay for it and the ten thousand other things a responsible adult has to attend to in her life each day. So the apricots sat an extra day which was not too warm but the sun came in bright and strong in the afternoon and shone right down on that little bowl. By evening something clearly need to happen and happen soon. So a took a leaf from my own book and launched into a 3-day jam process, which starts with cutting up the fruit and letting it macerate with sugar in the refrigerator overnight.
But when I started in on the apricot triage, I discovered that they were perfect, actually, in their over-ripeness. They were squishy in places and fell off their pits like a dream. Soon I was blessed with a bowl full of sticky golden orange half-moons with an amazing fragrance that shouted sunshine and summer. I had caught them just at that moment when they were at their best.
Thinking about this as I continued to cut open the apricots and douse them in a handful of sugar, I realized that don't often have the courage to wait for this kind of ripeness, this kind of intensity, in my own life. I often rush things too quickly because I'm afraid of that fine line, that place that rapidly turns from lush sweetness into rot and lost opportunity. Had I, the nervous Nelly super organized early bird, ever waited just a little longer for something like that to happen? No, and I have been gnawing on pale yellow, greenish golfballs as a result.
Maybe the apricots had something to teach me about letting things go a little beyond where I am comfortable. Maybe I needed to smell the almost-rotting perfume of a just right moment in order to know exactly what 'just right' is. And maybe I even had to allow for the possibility of disaster, to risk being too overripe, for the promise of something sweet and intense. Something alive and succulent. Something just right and fully grown.
Related: Weekend Meditation: Saying Yes
(Image: Dana Velden)