Enjoying the Fruits …

    October 14, 2003

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” — Ann Landers

The Internet allows me the tremendous opportunity to live where I do, which as one visitor who saw my online snapshots of the area commented, “… where you live is as close to paradise as I think you’ll find on this planet!”

Barring the occasional storm, I’d tend to agree.

At this time of year, the weather has cooled a little, the first monsoon-like rains fell last week and the fruits of this fertile valley’s year-round production are being harvested and enjoyed. Unlike much of the rest of this sub-tropical island, we have a four-season climate here.

Earlier in the summer, I’d picked apples, peach-like durasno and plums of various colours from the front *garden*.

Fields of wheat, potatoes, maize, pumpkins, avocados, lemons and saffron are cultivated around & about. Cabbages grow wild around field perimeters and even 50% of the “weeds” that are collected for goat-feed, are made up of fennel.

This weekend, both black & white grapes were harvested from the rows of vines in my backyard. Enough to make 200 litres of wine with a few huge bunches left over for me to eat.

Later in the year, I hope I’ll get my usual gift of oranges from my next door neighbour’s tree. I’ve never seen bigger and I’ve never tasted juicier, or sweeter, anywhere.

For weeks now, I’ve been enjoying fresh blackberries daily, collected from the hedgerows just yards from the house. Now we’re in fig season, which also grow wild and abundantly.

This morning, I combined the dog’s pre-breakfast stroll, past more happy-faced grape-pickers, with collecting a kilo or so of fresh figs. (I feel so righteous grabbing one of these instead of a cookie every time I pass the kitchen!) I’ve frozen some already that I plan to use for desert over Christmas and I intend to make some more into fig cakes.

While the glut of quince — I have trees at both back and front of the house — will, of course, be made into jelly.

We have cacti everywhere too, with their profusion of prickly pears. Yeah, imagine that, growing either feet from or, intertwined with the blackberry brambles!

Also within walking distance, there are more fruits of several varieties and rows upon rows of cultivated vines and terraces, jostling with date palms and almond groves.

Before I moved up here, I lived on a banana plantation.

For a “city-girl” to arrive and literally, take my own pickings, compared with the costly convenience to which I was accustomed, was Harvest Festival and then some. Even Eve couldn’t have had such a field day in the Garden of Eden and, it was very easy to get overly excited about it.

But it’s not until you’ve lived amongst nature for several years, as I now have and seen the rhythm and passing of various seasons; the fates and follies of both nature and human intervention, that one stops taking it all for granted and begins to fully appreciate the true wonder.

It doesn’t have to be like this, as was demonstrated by a few rouge storms and excessive rains at all the wrong times last year. None of the normally millions of figs ever got enough sun to mature and ripen. Whole fields of potatoes rotted or were simply ripped up by the high winds. The wheat was lost entirely and the grape harvest shriveled to nothing with bad case of mildew en masse.

Yet, the same effort and constant care; planting, tending, pruning, ploughing, daily comings and goings had gone into producing nothing, as have gone into this year’s plenty.

There’s little or no automation can be used on this mountainous terrain. Tools are almost primitive. Add the tending of a few goats for cheese and meat, a couple of chickens in the backyard and the occasional rabbit stew and this is what people have done here, for centuries.

They aren’t daunted by the occasional failure. They simply go about their daily tasks, focussed on their goals, guided mostly by the seasons or the rising and setting of the sun.

They know it takes patience, persistence and not a little hard work before they can enjoy the fruits.

Remember this applies to business too. Even online.

Copyright 2003 Pamela Heywood

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Copyright 2003 Pamela Heywood
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