It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, and Dorothy was driving quietly down a country road when she spied something she had not seen in years. There, on the side of the road, was a stall that said: QUINCES – $2 A BAG!
QUINCES! What an old-fashion fruit! You never see quinces for sale at the supermarket these days. They look too gnarly; too blemished. And besides, anyone who bites into one raw will never bite into another again. But poached! Goodness me! They turn a deep red, casting a magnificent odour around the house, and taste divine.
And then there is quince jelly. Strained through a muslin cloth and stored in jars they reflect the most beautiful peach-coloured, nectarine-coloured light.
Dorothy stopped the car. She had only a $5 note, so she bought two bags of quinces and, since the roadside stall was unsupervised, she did not take any change. But two bags were worth the $5.
Back home, Dorothy set to work. She made quite a few jars of quince jelly and thought, “I know who will appreciate this old-fashion jam! My two aged aunts down the road!”
Dorothy’s aunts were spinsters. They had lived together for years and were in their nineties. Dorothy dropped off two jars. My word! Were they appreciated! The aunts knew what quince jelly was. The jars were circled. The jars were clucked at. The jars were pointed at. Quince jelly! Its arrival was the highlight of the day!
Several days later, Dorothy saw a headline in the paper: Quinces sold on side of road laced with poison.
Dorothy phoned her aunts immediately.
“Come on! Come on!” said Dorothy into the phone. “Answer the phone! Answer it!”