I love summertime fruit salads with lots of fresh berries and melons in any combination. I’m not crazy about fruit salad mix in the winter when everything is apples, bananas, oranges, or canned mixtures of something that vaguely resembles fruit. (Marshmallows help, but no coconut, please). As you get older, you tend to reminisce more, and I’ve thought a lot about my family garden growing up, and how much I enjoy these memories with each fruit bite I take.
Scouting the Perfect Fruit Salad Mix
During the summer, I visit the nearest little fruit stand, 75 miles away, heading west towards Portland. The little fruit stand isn’t far from the Hood River Valley, one of the premier fruit-growing areas of the Northwest, and thinking about the fresh cherries and berries make my mouth water. The little fruit stand, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, sells a lot of locally grown produce, but I’m partial to the peaches grown across the river in arid Eastern Washington.
Up the road the other way, heading east into the dry, sandy desert, are the best watermelons in the world. Everybody waits for the Hermiston melons to ripen, usually in July. If you haven’t tried a Hermiston melon, you’re missing out. I’m not kidding. They’re even better than Arizona melons, which are pretty darn good.
Unfortunately, my garden had no fruit trees when we bought our house four years ago, and I’m not sure I want to plant any, mostly because trees might block the view. The only fruit we grow is rhubarb (lots and lots of rhubarb), and tomatoes that we share with our neighborhood deer.
Best Fruit in the Garden – Peaches and Green Apples
I feel fortunate that I grew up on my family’s wheat and cattle ranch. My folks built a ranch-style house on a hill with views of several mountains in the Cascade Range – Hood, Adams, St. Helens, Rainier, Jefferson, and on a clear day, the Three Sisters.
My mom loved to grow both flowers and vegetables. Her garden patch wasn’t huge, but it produced well with plenty of green beans to can for eating during the winter. During the summer, I would go to the garden, salt shaker in hand, and raid the tomato plants. I guess she had enough tomatoes to go around because she never complained about my thievery.
Near the garden was a peach tree that provided cool shade during the hot, dry summers. The tree wasn’t dependable, but on the years that it produced, the fruit was nothing short of heavenly. My mother and I would stand at the sink as we ate the peaches, the sweet juice running down our chins.
On the other side of the house was a small apple tree that produced little green apples (anybody remember that song?). I picked and ate the apples straight from the tree, and they were so sour. Really, really sour! Every summer, my dad said the apples would give me a green apple bellyache, but they never did.
As I write this, it’s May and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I’ve been thinking about my mother’s garden, and also about the little fruit stand. I hope it’s safely opened by the time the cherries are ripe. They’re worth the wait (and the three-hour drive down and back).