Of Apricots and Christians

August 01, 2009

Summertime ... some people think of ocean beach vacations, or anticipate those two scoops of homemade ice cream on the front porch. I think of apricots.

Try to understand my handicap. I was raised in a central California housing tract carved out of an apricot orchard. Three surviving trees, matured over decades, stood in our front yard. They represented a vanishing breed then, and nearly extinct today — the Royal Blenheim apricot.

These were not average grocery store apricots. Not those I saw in a display recently with a sign practically shouting: "Ripe, juicy apricots, picked at the peak of flavor!" I nostalgically succumbed to the siren song and bagged a few beauties to take home for a treat — only to discover the sign had lied through its teeth. I would rather have eaten a bag of cotton balls. No aroma. No flavor. No good! They were donated to the compost heap.

Have you judged the apricot race by your beautiful but bland store variety? Please, think again.

With apologies to Tilton and Moorpark fans, if you have never enjoyed the luscious intoxication of a Royal Blenheim right off the tree, then, in my unabashedly biased opinion, you have not had an apricot.

Understand, this is all in retrospective nostalgia. My feelings about apricots were mixed as a child. Summer days turned a flow of ripening fruit into constant work. Out came drying trays and canning jars. Steamy, sticky canning duty in the kitchen churned out rows of gleaming Kerr jars filled to the brim. Trays of halved "cots" went outside under the hot sun to dry.

Yet the hard work has melted into the background. Front and center are those memories of just-picked apricots rinsed off under the hose and warm apricot cobbler with Friday evening rolls.

I'll take home-grown over store-bought any day. How can a hot house tomato ever stand up to a delectably aromatic globe right off the vine? Or try to compare a green-hard peach on aisle two versus the juice-filled treasure on the tree out back — please! Fresh-picked okra from the bush ... well ... some things can't be helped.

At every age, we are tempted to be like the crowd — to compare favorably with our peers. But, to do so, requires a compromise. Our subtle, unique character traits are lost when we strive to become what others expect. And the fruit? No amount of positive marketing can change the fact that even God is tempted to spit it out.

Have you judged the Christian world by the beautiful but bland variety so easy to find? Please, think again. Ask God to give you a taste of the real thing.

When you do, you'll never be tempted to settle for anything less, ever again.

The sign had lied through its teeth. I would rather have eaten a bag of cotton balls. No aroma. No flavor. No good!