Monday, July 26, lunchtime, at home

When Plums Fly Away

by Elspeth Hay

When Plums Fly Away

Something—a robin, maybe? a ghost?—ate every last green plum in the middle of the night. They are gone from the tree out back without a trace—no flesh, no pits, not so much on the ground as a twig.

Inside, the fridge is full: corn in its husk, fresh bluefish, arugula, broccoli. But I can’t concentrate on cooking—where are those plums? Who stole them from me? So I turn on the oven without thinking, then decide to roast the basket of beets, instead.

When the beets come out—steaming, piping hot—I trim them, skin them, slice them into half tears, orange and ruddy. My fi ngers, stained. I husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cob; it’s so sticky and milky when it’s this sweet. I gently tear a handful of basil and arugula and toss them in a salad bowl, then squeeze a lime in, a bit of vinegar, and olive oil. The corn and the beets go on top, still hot enough to fog up my face. I toss everything and then add a pinch of salt—mourn the plums and sit down to eat.

Elspeth’s ‘Local Food Report’ airs on the Cape and Islands NPR Station, 90.1, 91.1, 94.3 fm, on Thursdays at 7:30am and at 4:30pm and on Saturdays at 9:45am.