Our Giving Tree

In our yard sits an apricot tree- an unusual sight in Chicago. In the summer, its tall, stretching branches provide shade along with the sunset-colored fruits we lovingly call "the 'cots" in our family. Some years, our tree's fruit production is more bountiful than others. One summer, they dropped in such large quantities- fruit showers every few minutes- that we were on a constant rotation of collection. We'd hunt the fallen fruits, hidden from view under other plants' leaves, like Easter eggs. The trick was to get to them before the ants did and we'd haul them back to the house by the bucketful.

Our tree's branches stretched over our fence and we thought our neighbors were enjoying them as much as we were, until we got a typed letter from one of the tenants from the adjacent building, asking us to come remove our "nectarines/peaches" from their property. We were surprised that they had no idea what the fresh fruits landing on their balconies even were. Similar apricots were being sold at the neighborhood farmer's market for $7 per small basket. Didn't they realize that they were getting organic produce delivered to their front door for free?

Unfortunately, they did not see it this way, so we set out to remove the juicy 'cots from our neighbor's yards as well. Soon, this task amounted to a near full-time job that everyone in my family took turns doing. Thankfully, I was on summer vacation and had some time on my hands. Having grown up in a city our entire lives, we were mostly filled with wonder and love for our tree, who continued to parachute its gifts down on us day after day. Since we weren't able to eat all of the fresh fruit we'd collected, my mom started making jams and pretty soon, our pantry was full and we were giving them away to anyone who came for a visit.

This year, once again it is apricot season at our house. Having gotten used to the ways of things over the years, my dad and brother rigged a net underneath to catch the fruits and give them a cushioned fall. Our family members look out regularly to see the catch of the day, clusters of apricots like goldfish suspended in air. They plop down like tics from a clock, making its way through July. These days, we are again up to our necks in apricots and my mom is in a frenzy trying to figure out what to do with all of them- cakes, jams, and more cakes- reminding us to eat them between meals, unable to find a solution to the overflowing bowls that refill anew each day. That is the beauty of our apricot tree.


Caught 'Cots

Clafoutis aux Abricots -- Made by my mom

My beautiful mother


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