It’s not news that opposites attract. If it weren’t a given, my husband and I would never have made it up that aisle.
I submit, however, that he tricked me. When we courted, he wore suits and ties, and looked darned handsome in them. Even when I started hanging around his place, there was not a pair of overalls or hay-covered work boots to be seen. And he had a cleaning lady. Ah yes, the famous sin of omission.
Of course, I should have gotten a clue when I learned his parents lived on a small farm in Oregon, and that he had chickens and a pet pig in his youth. But he was wearing that beautifully cut suit and taking me to lovely dinners before we watched intelligent, interesting PBS television. The farmer remained well disguised, living contentedly in the heart of Hollywood as one of the big city’s truest fans.
The first shock of truth came when he bought property in Paso Robles to grow Christmas trees. He even built a yurt on the property. I thought it was a lark. Ah, one can be so blind. It was years before I finally understood the stark difference between us. It happened when the pomegranate tree he had planted, burst forth with fruit.
Oooh, I thought, what a lovely centerpiece these will make. Perfect for the fall holidays and they will last for weeks. I picked a bowlful and placed them artfully atop the dining table. The next day, my centerpiece was lopsided because two of the fruit were missing. I was puzzled until I opened the refrigerator and saw a jug of pomegranate juice sitting there. For the farmer, there is simply no reason on earth to waste perfectly good produce for aesthetic reasons. Fruit is meant to be harvested and consumed. End of story. Nothing I said about how beautiful the fruit looked stacked in the bowl and glowing in the autumn sunshine, made any sense to him.
Now, every October, pomegranate season leaves my kitchen looking like a scene from an axe murder. The farmer insists on squeezing each and every pomegranate produced by the tree, sending red arterial spray across the walls, counters, cupboards, dish towels and floor — and it stains. Even after his best cleanup efforts, I feel like I’m trying to hide a nasty crime scene.
For the farmer, it will always be purely function over form. Making charming centerpieces with anything from his orchard or garden is deemed foolishly frivolous. And I, in contrast, have no problem tossing out rotting, moldy fruit that just never all gets eaten. I continue to grab a few apples, pomegranates and persimmons each year, for at least one gorgeous arrangement, knowing it may disappear at any moment.
It appears Shakespeare knew of what he spoke in his second sonnet. Beauty is fleeting when it’s time to harvest the lower 40.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who longs for interior decoration, rather than jars of preserves. Contact her at [email protected].