A week ago I returned to Idler’s Rest for a hike. As I drove out on Mountain View Road, I sang along to Beethoven’s “little symphony in F” on the radio and noticed the leaves on the trees turning. This was the first time I’d noticed the leaves changing color here in Idaho this year; I remembered the brown leaves in Portland from the week before, and thought about how many of the leaves in Idaho in autumn become a luminous yellow I’ve never seen on the west coast.
Once at Idler’s Rest, I turned toward the orchard section, and soon found a tree which to my delight held tiny vermillion plums. I hadn’t known Idler’s Rest had plum trees. I circled the tree, trying to find a way to grab the fruit from the high branches, noticing multiple mounds of bear poop on the ground pocked with plum stones. I then spotted slighty larger yellow plums, not yet ripe, and further on, a tree with puplish plums in one long swath of a branch. I stood on fallen trunks, reaching and jumping, but still couldn’t get to the plums. One plum, the diameter of a quarter, fell to the ground, like the tree was teasing me. The plum was perfectly sweet, warm from the sun. I grabbed a forked branch, stood on a log, and by hitting and shaking the branches out of my reach with the stick was able to drop many plums to the ground. I gathered the fruit off the ground in a bag I had been smart enough to bring (thinking of apples), and continued on my way.
I next came to a tree that was covered in tiny dimpled red plums; they looked like cherries. These ones were low enough to pick, and confused, I bit in to one, to find tart yellow plum flesh. A chipmunk sat in a branch just barely out of my reach above me, watching as I gathered plums. These tart ones could go in a crisp, I thought.
Singing the Playground hum to alert bears of my presence, I moved out of the trees and into the grassy section of Idler’s Rest. Finally I found one of the apple trees. The apples were yellow-green with a blush of red, but full of holes, misshapen, with big black spots. Thinking of apple butter, I climbed up into the tree sticking apples in my pockets. I found one apple in good condition, and bit into it. It was just the right amount of sweet and tart. I ate it, looking out over the grassy fields, listening to crickets and feeling the afternoon heat, then finished gathering apples and moved on.
Two silhouettes of horses stood behind a fence at the edge of Idler’s Rest. In front of that was a dense copse of trees featuring oblong purple plums, similar to Italian prunes. But they were too sour, and I let them stay, wondering if they’d sweeten before the cold came.
My bag full of fruit, I proceeded to the forested section of Idler’s Rest to finish my hike, thinking of Mabon, joyful at my scavenged harvest.