With my birthday coming up later this week, my family has been hounding me for a wish list.  I dutifully got out a sheet of paper, but then I merely stared at it while my mind and the paper both remained entirely blank.

Problem is, I really can’t think of anything to put on it.  I have everything I want, and everything I need, already.  I confess—I’m one of those people who are hard to buy for.

Several years ago, I came up with a brilliant solution:  I asked for a tree.

My husband thought I was nuts.

“We live in the woods, and you want a tree for your birthday?”

“Yes,” I said.  “I want a weeping willow.  We had one when I was a little girl, and I always loved it.”

They got me one.

The next year, for Mother’s Day, they got me another.

And for my birthday that year, they got yet another.

Over time, I wound up with six.  At that point, my husband said “No more willow trees!”

So then I started asking for fruit trees, because when I was a little girl, we had a yard full of fruit trees, including figs and persimmons and plums.  If you’ve never had a fresh fig or a persimmon, you don’t know what you’re missing.  And my mom’s Polish plum jam was to die for.

I can’t grow persimmons or figs in Wisconsin, but I can grow plums.  So I asked for a plum tree.

My kids cheerfully complied with my request.

Over the course of the next few years, we planted not just the one plum tree, but two (I needed a second variety as a cultivar), and also two pears, two apples, and two cherries.  I spaced them carefully along the driveway, and although they haven’t all survived, the ones that have look very pretty.  Unfortunately, they’ve never produced much of anything.

Until this year.

This year the trees all seem to have decided to make up for lost time.  In fact, I wondered if they were having a competition.  We got a good dozen-and-a-half each of pears and apples, and a whole tree full of cherries (though the birds got to them before we picked a single one—next year I’m gonna buy a net.)

But if it was a competition, the plum tree won.

You have to understand, this is a teeny tiny tree.  It was only planted maybe three years ago.  But this year it managed to produce an easy fifty pounds of fruit.  That’s not fifty plums—that’s fifty pounds of plums.  The branches were hanging clear down to the ground.

My “About me” page says I can’t grow much of anything, and that’s really no lie.  But apparently I can grow plums.  Oh boy, can I grow plums.

And although plums were actually never on my list of favorites when I was a little girl, or not when it came to fresh eating, I can still taste my mom’s jam.  Man, she made some great jam.

So with my fifty pounds of plums, I decided I would make jam.

Problem is, I don’t actually know how to make jam.  I’ve never done it before.  And I don’t have my mom’s recipe, which was conveniently stored in her head but was apparently never written down.  So I went online in search of a recipe that sounded like what my mom used to make.

And what did I find?  Polish plum jam.  Powidła śliwkowe.  As soon as I saw it, I was certain that was what my mom used to make.

So as I write this, that’s what I’ve been doing:  making Polish plum jam like my mom used to make.  Or anyway, I hope it’ll be like hers.

But while it’s cooking, I still have a birthday list to draw up.  We’ve really about run out of space for trees, but maybe I could squeeze in one more.

Do I dare to plant a peach?