One of my guests freaked out in the sea and wouldn’t go swimming because of a “big brown snake.” We saw the photo. It’s not a snake, it is a sea cucumber – a synaptid – that stretches way out to feed, and then bunches itself back up into a typical sea cucumber shape when touched. We thought “brown sea snake” sounded impossible – we’ve never seen or heard of any. Just the “brown tree snake”: in Guam, not here.
Austin and I were sitting at the gas station and he pointed to a bank of green and said “milk leaf!” So it was, a tree was there! Strangler fig (Ficus something), a.k.a. milk leaf because the leaves can be used to improve lactation in a most impressive fashion. A Fijian friend taught us about milk leaf 32 years ago when she came to Chuuk with her 8 month old. She was delighted to see it growing all over the place, as you could hardly find it in Fiji anymore – the women used it all up. I used strangler fig a year later for my baby number 2, and for every child after. Six torn up leaves in a glass of water and I’d go from unremarkable to Dolly-Parton-eat-your-heart-out in about half an hour. It was great. Now here was a big unmolested milk leaf plant right in town in Fiji. Times have changed.
Sitting through a longish funeral in Fijian, I heard cheerful birds outside. Mynas! Who would have guessed they sounded so good? I never heard them because all I could see was their trespassing and thieving ways.
Man! The corn got harvested this week and so we had an afternoon of shucking, followed by several days of shelling (still not finished). Austin only planted the red corn, so the colors are brilliant. We have corn that is all shades of red, purple, orange, and yellow – on cobs that are white, red or purple-black, with two colors of husks – green and purple. You never know what combination will show up. Anyway, the variety makes for fun husking and pleasant shelling.Here is a photo of some of it – not the best ears. I’ll try to get some with the husks next harvest.
And that was followed by our big honey harvest – we weren’t expecting so much. Fifty-two Kgs! over 110 pounds! My son spun it out of the trays – my job was squeezing the combs in cheesecloth. The honey oozing over my hands felt as if it was moisturizing away the dryness from corn-husking. Yeah, I think it did. Good to have the two crops come in back to back like that.
This is something I heard earlier this week from an overseas visitor: Fiji has 1596 different plant species, and 60% of them are edible! Really! That’s what he had read! I was thinking “if there are over 900 species of edible plants, then why are we even TALKING about the possibility of eating lizards?” I looked at all the plants growing around here, grasses, flowers, fence-post trees thinking 60% of you are edible? Maybe it just means 40% are “not poisonous”? Finally I asked my guest where he read the information. Lonely Planet Guide, he said. So I just got my hands on the book and found it on page 63. Here is the quote: Most of Fiji is lush with fragrant flowers and giant, leafy plants and trees. There are 1596 identified plant species here, and about 60% of them are endemic. [i.e. native – edible or not] Dang! I was hoping for edible, but – yes – endemic makes a lot more sense. Maybe we will have to eat lizards if we run out of other food…..