Monday, November 7, 2011

Avocado Picking as an Olympic Sport

A freshly picked avocado.

If I give you an avocado, most likely it was through the sweat of my brow and some herculean effort to pick it.  Some people have avocado trees that grow on flat land. However, we live on the side of a gulch, and the avocado trees grow tall and the avocados dangle high up in the branches, over the gulch.  Okay, I confess, there are a couple of trees which grow on the other side, away from the gulch. But those avocados are not ready to pick. 

The fruit picker basket

We are deep in avocado season.  If we're lucky, the avocados will continue until the end of February. They started falling in late August.  Sometimes, I'll hear a thump in the middle of the night, which is an avocado that has fallen.  In the morning, if I remember, I'll check the yard for fallen avocados.  Picking avocados off the ground is a lot easier than wielding the long and shaky fruit picker.

One of the trees is very old, and the avocados are very high up and quite small.  But they're still good. Another tree has huge "cannonball" style avocados and these luscious beauties are particularly hard to reach. 

The famous "Mickey Mouse" avocado of Maui.

Equipped with a fruit picker, I will stalk the avocados, looking for one that is big and possibly within my reach. It's a sport, aiming the fruit picker to the chosen avocado, then scooping it into the basket.  It's not really like scooping. It's more like using an extended claw to reach for the avocado while the the picker is swinging around like a fishing pole, and then to repeatedly paw at the avocado and push against it while simultaneously pulling the fruit picker with great force away from the tree. The fruit picker basket only has claws on one side, so during the tug of war, if the basket twists around as it is prone to do, the captured avocado falls out the smooth side of the basket, plummeting deep down into the gulch. The other tricky part is once the avocado is captured, there is a recoil, where the fruit picker bounces and it takes all one's strength to keep it steady instead of letting the basket tip down, and tip out the avocado.  The final tricky part is while pulling in the avocado, in a steady motion, to not hit the ground end of the fruit picker against vines or rocks or the ground at an uneven angle, causing again, the avocado to fall out.

On a bad day, out of five avocados, I may lose three.  On a good day, if I go slowly and pause between steps, I may net five out of five. But after five, my arms get really tired and the effort of picking a sixth avocado takes infinitely longer to do, so I've decided that five is my limit.

"Ah, but a woman's reach should extend her grasp."
 My friend Suzanne and her husband David recently stopped by, and of course, we encouraged them (hee hee hee - diabolical laugh) to pick their own avocados. David held the ladder and Suzanne approached the first tree growing out of the gulch. A two-person team is much better than one-on-one, fruit picker versus avocado tree. 

Here's a video clip of avocado picking:

They met with great success and Suzanne was happy with her "trophy" avocados.

Hard- won avocados.

Anyone else want to come over and pick your own avocados? (Hee hee hee)


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