Mellow Fruitfulness

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

When I was young, living in the staff quarter of a rural college south of Mongolian steppe, I often heard fruit stories from my mother’s friends who had migrated from the south. My favorite bits were oranges knocking on your shoulder, waking up with olives about to jump into your mouth, feeding on lychee while sitting on a tree branch. Siva jyothi’s post about a cool day under a loaded lemon tree reminds me of those stories and how I imagined those fruitful pictures.

For some mysterious reasons, the stories were often told during the winter time when fruit and vegetables were scarce. In those days, transportation was inadequate and hot houses were rare. It was no surprise that our fruit and veggie supplies were nonexistence once the cold wind started to blow from Mongolia and Siberia. The diligent local people do all kinds of salted veggies, pickled fruit, and tomato sauce in autumn to last the whole winter until April of the next year. It’s a big operation that usually takes two weeks to complete and the whole neighborhood would join in to rent a huge container as tall as an adult and as big as a small room.

When I read books on sailors of the 17th or 18th century, who went without fresh fruit or veggies for months and ended up got sick with scurvy, I often wondered why they didn’t bring pickled produce with them. And on those ships, fights often broke out more easily for fruit rations than anything else, and I could understand that more than anything else.

Once somebody in our three story building traveled back from a business trip to the tropical area and brought back two pineapples. He was trying to consume them in the privacy of his home with his wife and his kids. The pineapples were quite ripe and soft with juice starting to leak out and the man didn’t take care to wrap them very tightly. When he walked back to the building, his whole body and his luggage smelled of pineapple. This was right before the dinner time and children were playing here and there around the building, waiting for their mothers to call them to their meal. Everybody was hungry. And the smell of the exotic fruit just intoxicated several boys that happened to meet him right outside of the building. The news spread quickly. Soon, a whole gang of children from the neighborhood just came to his door and refused to leave. The parents of these children came too. Everybody stared at the man and asked to share a piece. If the man didn’t hand over his fruits, he could be in trouble. It’s so unfair to the man, but fairness was not the first thing in the mind of the mob that had not eaten anything fresh for several months. And sure enough the mob justice was carried out swiftly and the two pineapples were cut up with a kitchen knife. Minutes later, it’s all gone. The man’s two kids were in tears, but they couldn’t do anything other than boiling the pineapple skin to make some “pineapple juice”.

31 thoughts on “Mellow Fruitfulness

  1. Wow that’s really sad. It reminds me of what I learnt in one of my history courses. During the Korean War there was so little food that people would look through the trash at the American army bases to find any fresh food they could get their hands on. They didn’t have many fresh fruits and vegetables either and would preserve whatever they could get their hands on and eat small amounts of it every day,

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    1. Yes, pickling vegetables are very prevalent in those areas since about half the year, there’s no fresh veggies available. Yes, after WWII, many Asian countries are in even more dire condition than the pitiful condition before. And needless to say, Japan is one of the very few countries who didn’t suffer much economic hardships. Life is unfair and history is even more unfair.

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        1. I do that too- I always think about how different things would be if certain historic events went differently. Reality is very disappointing for people like us who have a wild imagination lol.

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        2. That’s so true. Let’s invent a history that we really like and create a world that suits our fancy. The real world is so unsatisfactory.

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    1. This happened decades ago when I was a little girl. LOL. Yes, in the area with long winters, fruit and vegetables are absent for half a year from the local farms.

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  2. Now that I think about it, that’s possibly why the Koreans made so many varieties of kimchi. Personally, I am not a fan a fruit nor do I eat enough. Times like this, I should feel grateful that I can at least eat them.

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    1. Wow, eat more fruit and veggies. They will be good for you. LOL. That’s so true. Koreans have to preserve their vegetables for the winter since the cold winter have no veggies for months on end.

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  3. I enjoy reading these stories of years gone by and of how things were, even when there is a sad ending. When we were children, everyone still grew fruit trees in their backyards. Typically, you would find a lemon tree, an orange tree and a mandarine (mandarin orange) and a plum tree or two. Grapevines were a thing too. Loquats and cumquats, as bitter as they are were a feature, and the jewel in the crown was the mulberry tree. My grandparents always had an almond tree and a pomegranate tree, which absolutely fascinated me. We even grew watermelons.

    Then fruit trees became a thing of the past and the interest in gardening declined. We all became more mobile and busier (whatever that really meant).

    In today’s world, for those who are feeling the need to re establish their gardens they can buy fruit trees in wine vat halves to place on their patio, which I think is a good thing. I might get one or two before the spring. We have a lemon tree against the back fence, as many of our neighbours do and we all seem to be growing our own herbs and certain vegetables once more.

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    1. Wow, wonder how Loquats and cumquats look like. LOL. You are painting such a beautiful picture of an exotic time. I really love it. LOL. Watermelons. That’s so fascinating. Fruit trees have faded out of fashion now but veggie garden is very popular now, especially with organic food being so expensive to buy. I know people who are very serious about their backyard veggie that they spend most of their spare time tending them.

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      1. Both trees come China with a yellow/golden fruit. Yes, it was an idyllic time. Mum would always yell out “keep out of the mulberry trees,” because the berries stain so easily. However, resistance was useless. My friends and I just had to climb the trees and eat the mulberries. I do have plans to activate a veggie garden myself. We will see how it goes 😊

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        1. LOL. You are bringing these memories back to me so vividly. Yes, mothers were always worried about the clothes and washing clothes was a huge burden to women back in those days when washing machine was scarcely available in our area.

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  4. Oops! Didn’t see that sad ending coming! I loved how you described the winters and the fruitfulness in the earlier paragraphs and go on to talk about how much they meant to starving travellers back then. Wonderful read! Makes one feel thankful for what one has now. 🤍

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  5. Aww. The ending is sad. The want of fruit so bad. That’s a sign of scarcity. Yes, I can understand the whole process of preserving and pickling. It may not be like fresh fruit but will go a long way. By the way, I love pineapple. Lol.
    Loved reading this. 🙂

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