Savoring the “The Consolation of Apricots” by Diane Ackerman

 

Hello, Friends. I’m so glad you’re here today.

Hope you’re doing well despite these crazy, scary, unbelievably challenging times.

Please help yourself to a warm cuppa and a fresh-from-the-oven apricot scone while you savor Diane Ackerman’s sumptuous poem.

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“Apricot Still Life” by Julie L’Heureux

 

THE CONSOLATION OF APRICOTS
by Diane Ackerman

Especially in early
spring,
when the sun
offers a thin
treacle of warmth,
I love to sit
outdoors
and eat sense-
ravishing apricots.

Born on sun-
drenched trees in
Morocco,
the apricots have
flown the Atlantic
like small comets,
and I can taste
broiling North
Africa in their
flesh.

Somewhere
between a peach
and a prayer,
they taste of well
water
and butterscotch
and dried apples
and desert
simooms and lust.

Sweet with a
twang of spice,
a ripe apricot is
small enough to
devour
as two
hemispheres,
Ambiguity is its
hallmark.

How to eat an
apricot:
first warm its
continuous curve
in cupped hands,
holding it
as you might a
brandy snifter,

then caress the
velvety sheen
with one thumb,
and run your
fingertips
over its nap,
which is shorter
than peach fuzz,
closer to chamois.

Tawny gold with a
blush on its
cheeks,
an apricot is the
color of shame
and dawn.
One should not
expect to drink
wine
at mid-winter,
Boethius warned.

What could be
more thrilling
then ripe apricots
out of season,
a gush of taboo
sweetness
to offset the
savage wistfulness
of early spring?

Always eat
apricots at
twilight,
preferably while
sitting in a sunset
park,
with valley lights
starting to flicker
on
and the lake
spangled like a
shield.

Then, while a trail
of bright ink
tattoos the sky,
notice how the sun
washes the earth
like a woman
pouring her gaze
along her lover’s
naked body,

each cell receiving
the tattoo of her
glance.
Wait for that
moment
of arousal and
revelation,
then sink your
teeth into the flesh
of an apricot.

~ from I Praise My Destroyer (Random House, 1998)

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This poem was more than a consolation for me — it was a revelation! I’m an apricot lover from way back; I remember what a treat it was when my mom bought dried apricots for me to snack on when I was little (so much better than raisins or prunes!).

BTW, how do you pronounce “apricot” — with a short or long “a”? I’ve always used a “long a,” but Len uses a “short a.” Supposedly it’s a regional thing; if you’re from the Northeast, especially, it’s usually a “short a.” Well, no wonder. Also, the British use the “long a,” so I’m happy to align with them. πŸ™‚

 

 

But back to Ackerman’s poem. I was entranced from the first stanza — how could anyone resist that “thin treacle of warmth”? Her writing is delightfully sensuous and sensual — I don’t mind being seduced by luscious images and invited to appreciate apricots in whole new ways. And how often do you see the word “simoons” in a poem?

I so appreciate the marriage of science and art in her work, and have been a fan since I first read, A Natural History of the Senses (Random House, 1990).Β 

I admit I’ve never caressed an apricot’s “velvety sheen with one thumb,” or run my “fingertips over its nap.” Don’t often see fresh apricots in the stores, so most of my enjoyment has been limited to eating them dried (I can only imagine the nap that’s “shorter than peach fuzz, closer to chamois”).

 

 

Still, if I ever score a fresh apricot, I will try my best to follow Ackerman’s instructions on how to eat it — “at twilight, while sitting in a sunset park.” Sigh. I’m certain it’s the only way to go. πŸ™‚

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πŸ‘ THE CONSOLATION OF BUTTERMILK LEMON-APRICOT SCONES πŸ‹

 

 

Guess what happened after Mr Cornelius and the other resident bears read this poem? They wanted to eat apricots, of course.

Luckily we had some chopped apricots left from when we made Lynne Rae Perkins’s Wintercake, plus some buttermilk from our last batch of oatmeal buttermilk pancakes. Happy to say, King Arthur Flour came to the rescue with just the thing: a recipe for Buttermilk Lemon-Apricot Scones!

 

 

These were easy enough to make, with the option of doing drop scones or forming four rounds and then cutting them into wedges after baking. We did both by dividing the dough in half. Simple tasks like zesting the lemon and working the butter into the flour proved calming and a welcome distraction from the outside world. Baking might just be the best self-isolation activity ever.

 

 

Well, I take that back. EATING what you bake might be the best. πŸ˜€

We all enjoyed these scones warm with Kerry Gold Butter and apricot jam. Love the cakey, tender crumb, the richness from the butter + buttermilk in the batter. Total yum!

We needed the consolation of apricots this week, and we got a double serving. It was definitely “a gush of taboo sweetness to offset the savage wistfulness of early spring.” We felt quite naughty about the whole thing, redeemed by the knowledge that apricots are not only the color of shame, but of dawn. πŸ™‚

 

 

Look for the recipe at the King Arthur Flour Website so you can be consoled and naughty too. Pass me another scone!

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The lovely and talented Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. Be sure to check out all the poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Take care and have a good weekend.

 

 


Copyright Β© 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

57 thoughts on “Savoring the “The Consolation of Apricots” by Diane Ackerman

  1. Wow, I will never look at or enjoy an apricot (pronounced with a long a for me) in the same way again after reading Ackerman’s poem! I used to live in Hollister, CA where apricots orchards were plentiful (before the housing boom) and eating them fresh was heaven. Thanks for sharing this poem, Jama, and making my mouth water. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sumptuous and sensual indeed! I think I need to take a cold shower! 😊 Thanks for this gorgeous poem, your wonderful insights and the scones recipe, Jama. Stay safe and healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL — cold shower. At least it takes our minds off the pandemic for a few minutes. Thanks for dropping by, Iza. Take care and be well.

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  3. You nailed it, Jama – there is no better word to describe that poem than “sumptuous!” Love the sensory language – ‘flown like a comet,’ ‘between a peach and a prayer,’ ‘the tattoo of her
    glance’…just gorgeous stuff here. Thanks for sharing, and please stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, baking and eating scones, bread or whatever is a comforting activity especially now. What an amazingly sensuous poem about apricots! I wish I had frequent access to “sense-ravishing” apricots, with a long or short “a.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. People are definitely baking a lot more these days. At least with these scones you don’t have to worry about finding yeast (though all purpose flour is a challenge too).

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  5. My daughter was looking over my shoulder as I read your post. Her first question–does she share the recipe for the apricot scones? Once we get to the grocery store, these might be in our future. I love that luscious poem. I can’t wait to try a fresh apricot in a park at twilight one day. Swoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you decide to try these, and that you’re successful at finding dried apricots (the ones I used and ordered online are now out of stock as is everything else, it seems). I think this recipe would work with other kinds of dried fruit, though.

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  6. I have no apricots (long a), but now wish I did. I do love the dried ones, too and I’ve loved Ackerman’s books for a long time, though have not read her poetry. Now I will, Jama. How many lines could I share that I loved? Perhaps all of them? However, “Somewhere/between a peach/and a prayer,” shows her love quite beautifully. Thank you for the consolation, but also the hope that someday we will only be writing about making scones again.

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  7. I made ginger-apricot beignets the other day — yum! I’m with you about that “thin treacle of warmth” and dried apricots (long a) were a childhood favorite of mine too. Thanks, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oooh, how I needed the consolation of apricots and of this luscious poem, this luscious post, and those luscious-looking scones! I’ve always pronounced it with a short a sound. I’ve lived all over, so I have no idea where my family’s pronunciation came from. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I could almost taste the apricots in Diane’s poem. Like you, I love dried apricots. ( I pronounce with a long “a”.) I haven’t had a fresh apricot in years, but now I want one! Your scones look yummy! Thank you for another weekly dose of goodness. Take care and stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This poem has me longing for summer.
    Growing up we had an apricot (long a) tree in our back yard. Eating them out of season is a travesty for me, although perhaps the ones kissed by North African sun are different. There is nothing better than picking and eating apricots right off your own tree in the middle of blazing heat. (Nothing except for picking and eating ripe peaches.) Like you I enjoy them dried in the off season.
    I don’t have any dried apricots here, but I do have dried cherries. I wonder if this recipe will work with GF flour?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the mouthwatering comment. Your own apricot tree in the back yard? Wow. I can only imagine how delicious they were in season (I love summer peaches too). Don’t know about subbing GF flour, though with KA GF flour, you’re supposedly able to use it in place of all purpose flour in any recipe. I love dried cherries too — those would probably work too.

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  11. Thank you for this beautiful poem and this cozy, comforting post.
    Apricot preserves are in my top 3 preserve preferences (the other favorites being raspberry and sour cherry).
    I’m from New England and pronounce it with a short a!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha — a short a New Englander. So the theory is correct! I love your top three faves; raspberry is also fabulous, but I haven’t had much sour cherry (need to change that).

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  12. Not only do I not often see the word simooms in a poem, I’ve never seen that word anywhere and had to look it up! Thanks for another delicious and beautiful post! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  13. Jama, I saved your post for Friday evening because I wanted to spend some time with it. And, Oh! I’m so glad I did. What a delicious poem. This poem should be just one book…illustrated by the beautiful photos. I have lived in Greece where apricots grow and they are all that sunshine and more. What a treat…and a dessert of scones!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, Jama–you do have such good taste in poems (as in food and eye-candy). I’m intrigued by the first stanza…don’t you read this as poem as a flamboyant, sexy cousin of “This Is Just to Say”? How heavenly:

    Somewhere
    between a peach
    and a prayer,
    they taste of well
    water
    and butterscotch
    and dried apples
    and desert
    simooms and lust.

    Off to bake some apricot and ginger something…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it could be an x-rated version of “This is Just to Say.” πŸ˜€ My theory: fruit seems sexier than vegetables when it comes to sensory details and imagery, etc.

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  15. This poem about apricots (short a) immediately made me think of “Meditation on a Grapefruit” which Tracy K. Smith recently featured in her podcast The Slowdown. Two great mentor texts for examining a favorite food and the eating of it in glorious detail. Too bad pomegranates are not in season. I might try a poem about Gold Rush apples. My favorite. https://www.slowdownshow.org/episode/2020/03/10/337-meditation-on-a-grapefruit

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link, Mary Lee. Will definitely check it out. I hope you do write about Gold Rush apples (I’ve never had any).

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  16. So much to love in this poem!
    “…ripe apricots
    out of season,
    a gush of taboo
    sweetness…”
    I’ve had fresh apricots straight from the tree outside my sister’s apartment when she was in college!
    And now I just want some apricots so I can make the scones. But alas, daughter’s shopping trip for us was yesterday, so I’ll have to wait two more weeks. 😦
    You mentioned Wintercake! It was one of the books in the box I hadn’t returned to the library and so we get to keep it until the end of April. It’s at daughter’s house now, enriching my three year old grandson with its exquisite vocabulary. He loves it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now you have something to look forward to. Hope she can find the dried apricots in the store. Good to hear your grandson likes Wintercake — Lynne Rae’s recipe was yummy too. And lucky you to have eaten fresh apricots right off the tree. I’m drooling . . .

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  17. Jama, what a scrumptious post. I do love apricots. My Nonnie introduced me to their fine, luscious taste when I was little. The poem is also luscious with its sensory images. These lines reawaken my taste buds and love of springtime:
    a gush of taboo
    sweetness
    to offset the
    savage wistfulness
    of early spring?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear you’re also an apricot lover from way back, Carol. Ackerman’s poem is bursting with fabulous sensory images — hard to pick a favorite.

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  18. Oh, how I wish I had some dried apricots left in the cupboard! Your post has me feeling all warm and snuggly this morning, and hankering to whip something up in the kitchen. Off I go to make our weekly batch of granola and some fudgy brownies to see us through another wild week. Thanks, Jama!

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  19. Definitely a triple yum blog post Jama, and sensuous too! I think I’ll have to try eating a fresh apricot β€œat twilight, while sitting in a sunset park.” I have eaten fresh apricots but missed their luscious flavor, never missed it with a dry one though. Love your three friends holding up the scone, thanks, xo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting — I guess it’s true that just because an apricot is fresh doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sweet. With dried apricots, they can be tough and dry, so it’s really the luck of the draw.

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