Noreen Rei Fukumori, Cherry Plums (detail)

Backyard Fruit

Polaroid Photo Paintings by Noreen Rei Fukumori

Just before the winter solstice, my brother, sister, and I let go of the simple wood-framed house we had called home for forty years. It took a year to empty the house of its furniture and layers of accumulated memories. The process brought to light the true, steady presence of an extended family of fruit trees in the backyard. I remembered my dad’s annual ritual of pruning and trying out new grafts on the apple tree, or when my parents planted the persimmon tree to replace an old oak. Looking back, Dad’s tending the trees was his way of grounding life—healing, bridging the past with the present.

Golden Delicious

My father, Taro Fukumori, often recalled that as a boy he felt more comfortable getting his hands dirty tilling fields than sitting in a classroom. He and his four siblings were raised as tenant farmers, cultivating vegetables and a pear orchard in central California. When Taro was sixteen, his father unexpectedly died. A year later Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and on February 19, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the evacuation of Japanese Americans to internment camps. Taro’s family was given two weeks to pack one suitcase, forced to leave everything else behind. When they arrived at the Tule Lake internment camp, they learned that their house had been torched and burned down.

Hachiya Kaki

When the war ended, the family splintered off to seek employment. Taro moved to the Central Valley to find seasonal work as a farm laborer, his sisters found office jobs, and his mother worked as a housekeeper. By 1948, my father was drafted to serve in the U.S. military and had met my mother at a Sadie Hawkins dance. He attended trade school on the GI bill, married my mother in 1953, and became an engine inspector for United Airlines. He settled our family in Albany, California, establishing roots with a home and orchard of his own.


I savored that last season in my family home. The cherry plum, persimmon, fig, lemon, apple, and pear trees had grown taller, fuller, and more expressive over the years—a seasonal barometer, unconditionally yielding the byproduct of life for us to consume or compost. Sensation and reflection brought back fond memories with the realization that this tiny orchard was indeed a big part of my being; documenting the fruit has become my personal almanac. Framing a facet of nature through the camera lens is an expression of the color and flavors of childhood, of home-sweet-home, nature and human nature—a means of reconciling and revering life’s cycles.

Noreen Rei Fukumori, Fuyu Kaki


Many talented individuals are featured in the West Marin Review. Please click below for this volume’s contributors.

    • Noreen Rei Fukumori   Fuyu Kaki
    • Julia Edith Rigby   Tomales Calf
    • Blair Fuller   Grand Central Station
    • J. C. Stock   Bird Standing on Water
    • Rick Lyttle   Unorganized Sports
    • Vicki DeArmon   A Mother’s No
    • Stephanie E. Dickinson   Emily and the Dynamite
    • Alvin Duskin   The Red Arrow
    • Elaine Elinson   Bringing the Grape Boycott to England
    • Rick Bass   The Prudent Man
    • Molly Katzman   When It Stops Raining We Sleep Beneath the Stars
    • Rosaleen Bertolino   The Burned Hill
    • G. David Miller   Our Family Farm
    • Claire Peaslee   Colophon
    • Jody Farrell   Ode to the First Blackberry of Summer
    • Keith Ekiss   Miss Maria’s New Dress
    • Pamela Manché Pearce   Ocean View, Hotel Nacional de Cuba
    • Anuja Mendiratta   Brasil Vignettes
    • Roy Mash   Revolving Sunglass Display
    • Hiroki Coyle   The Treasure
    • Gerardo Loza   Where I’m From
    • Heather Quinn   Mindspill: a Paradelle
    • Agnes Wolohan von Burkleo   Now I Am an Old Woman
    • Dave Seter   Mission Blues
    • Gina Cloud   night poem
    • Dale Pendell   Sunset
    • Larry Ruth   South Fork of the Kings River
    • Cathryn Shea   The Chill of Grace
    • Claire Blotter   California Wild Flower Tonic
    • Anna Gold   “Will You Miss This?”
    • Mary Winegarden   Untitled
    • Ashley Teodoro   Seal
    • Adam Shemper   On the Day of Our Engagement, Motel Inverness Boardwalk, Tomales Bay
    • Jenifer Kent   Wave and Transit
    • Mariana Smith   The Seed of an Idea
    • Nancy Stein   Wave 43
    • Rebecca Czapnik   So Little, So Much
    • Brooke Holve   mtlaugwalkcut_5
    • Sophia Dixon Dillo   Appearance I and Appearance III
    • Noreen Rei Fukumori   Backyard Fruit
    • Gabriel Schillinger-Hyman   Marine Study, Chimney Rock
    • Topaze “t.c.” Moore   Bestiary #1 and Quagga Stallion and Foal
    • Sherri Paul   The Treasure Hunter
    • Patricia Thomas   Fog
    • Anne Faught   URSA
    • Julia Edith Rigby   Tomales Calf
    • Jacqueline Mallegni   Haiku
    • Vincent Dion   Untitled #37
    • Sage Rossman   Two Trees
    • Shirley Salzman   Periodic Art of the Elements
    • Theodora Varnay Jones   CP-X
    • Susan Putnam   Untitled #244
    • Eileen Puppo   Seasonal Shock
    • Wendy Schwartz   Rich Readimix
    • Bob Kubik   Morning Coffee
    • Adah Pinchuk Hyman   Estero in Blue and Tomales Bay, Low Tide
    • Kathleen Goodwin   Homage to the Half Tree
    • Andrew Thompson   Warning: Bees
    • Charles Eckart   View from the Bicycle
    • Caitlin McCaffrey   Domed Nest with Pantry Chambers
    • Catherine J. Richardson   Caspian
    • D. L. Woerner   Joan’s Falcon
    • Lisa Piazza   Leaf #3
    • Lorraine Almeida   Growth in the Desert
    • Isis Hockenos   We, the Milked III
    • Jon Langdon   Asters in Starlight
    • Thomas D. Joseph   Tennessee Valley Beach
    • Mark Ropers   Point Lobos