And somehow <she> thrived anyway–the blossom of our family,
like one of those miraculous fruit trees that taps into an invisible vein of nurture
and bears radiant bushels of plums while the trees around it merely go on living.
~Barbara Kingsolver in Animal Dreams
There is a plum tree on our farm that is so plain and unassuming much of the year that I nearly forget that it is there. It is a bit off by itself away from the other fruit trees; I have to make a point of paying attention to it otherwise it just blends into the background.
Despite not being noticed or having any special care, this tree thrives. In the spring it is one of the first to bud out into a cloud of white blossoms with a faint sweet scent. Every summer it is a coin toss whether it will decide to bear fruit or not. Some years–not at all, not a single plum. Other years, like this one, it is positively glowing with plum harvest– each a golden oval with a pink blush. These plums are extraordinarily honey flavored and juicy, a pleasure to eat right off the tree if you don’t mind getting past a bitter skin and an even more bitter pit inside. This is a beauty with a bite — sweet surrounded by bitter.
I think the tree secretly grins when it sees puckering taking place all around it.
This tree is a lot like some people I know: most of the time barely noticeable, hanging on the periphery, fairly reserved and unobtrusive. But when roots go deep and the nourishment is substantial, they bear a bounty of fruit, no doing things half-way. The feast is plentiful and abundant, the meal glorious despite the hint of sour. Maybe it is even more glorious because of sweet within bitter.
If “tucker” describes a great down-home meal, then being “plum-tuckered” would be eating our fill of the bitter-sweet. Even when the bitter in this life is plentiful, the sweet will always overwhelm and overcome.