Apricot

In addition to the mimosa and roses that I so loved, my paternal grandmother had a magnificent apricot tree.  We didn't have an apricot tree of our own, and perhaps that helped make my grandmother's tree feel extra special.  It bore heavy crops of delicious fruit.  It was also the site, every year, of a mockingbird's nest.  I like to think it was the same mockingbird and that she chose that tree with malicious intent, anticipating with delight the opportunity to harass anyone seeking fruit.  In any case, picking an apricot required daring and careful planning.  Otherwise, you were guaranteed a sharp and painful rap on the top of your head.  I never knew whether she was protecting her babies or trying to keep all the apricots for herself.

The gang of cousins strategized like generals.  We might be able to coerce the younger ones to rush in for the grab, but they might not be tall enough to reach the fruit, they might cry like babies and get the coercers in trouble, or they might refuse to share.  If Grandpa was around, we could ask him gather some fruit for us - he was always more tolerant of our shenanigans than Grandma, who wasn't very likely to interrupt her chores to help.  If we were sufficient in number, we might split into one gang to scare away mama bird and another to pick.  We didn't dare throw rocks at mama bird though - even Grandpa lost his tolerance there and that was a line we knew not to cross.  One way or another, we always managed to get our fruit even if we had to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Apricots are still a favorite, though I am seldom satisfied with the ones I bring home from the store.  They just can't compare with the fruit warm from the tree, and the sweet juice dripping off your chin.