1 August 2013

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Quick contest: Can you tell me the Puerto Rican name of this flower in Spanish and English?   I’m so happy to see this little vine flowering around the farm and down Valley Road.  I may just adopt it as my blog logo.

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On to what’s actually happening.  the angel trumpets are wilting in the heat.  So sorry for my Alaskan friend who arrives Monday, hoping for a real Fiji winter. Our cold snap ended pretty quickly.
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A Colombian guest was shocked to see that we had angel trumpets growing – they are illegal in Colombia because of some date-rape cases.  Sheesh!  I thought their pollen might contribute to my allergies, but maybe the pollen is why I’m so…. what was I writing about?
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Drama of the week:  about 4 pm one afternoon, one of our mango trees came alive chirping. Loudly. Obviously it had to be birds, but I didn’t see any, and so it appeared as a magic chattering tree.  Finally I saw one bird in a bald spot, and then saw some of the same birds flying in and some taking off.  What I know about this bird, besides the chirping:  it is medium sized, it is black and  it is not a bulbul, myna or heron.
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It’s funny about the mango trees.  Everybody has one or two – but mango trees only give fruit VERY rarely here in the valley.  The frequent morning mists of our micro-climate are assumed to be the reason the trees here rarely flower, and when they do flower, they still don’t set fruit.  At least one hopeful farmer has tried covering branches in plastic sheeting and still didn’t get any fruit out of it.   But mango trees are kept anyway because the leaves are used for certain Hindu house blessings, and the wood is preferred for Hindu ceremonial fires.  We don’t need them for either purpose, so  Austin is getting rid of most of these fruitless trees on our land.  The chirping-wonder tree has been ringed already and is supposed to be dying  – though it hasn’t figured that out yet.
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Serendipity:   Back at the funeral we attended a few weeks ago, we sat outside during a long ceremony where the mother’s and father’s families exchanged whale’s teeth (tabuas), mats, drums of kerosene and whatnot. Our Danish guests and I were under a tree that I didn’t know … that would be most trees. The leaves of this one looked kind of like mangrove leaves – but it was inland by 20+ meters did not have a mangrove’s roots.   This tree had one fruit that looked to me a bit like a noni fruit (ICK!).  By and by Austin came to sit with us.  He got all excited when he saw it and said, “this fruit holds an edible nut like a peanut.” He pulled the fruit down (in the village!  while all the custom exchanges were going on!), opened it and extracted some nuts to take home..  “I bet they don’t know what this is,” he continued. “I remember it from Palau.”

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A few days later he visited the Taiwan Agriculture Mission – and lo and behold! – they had some of these trees at the station for a demonstration, and they were just getting ready to destroy them. They gave the trees to Austin instead and here they are in pots waiting to be transplanted as soon as he figures out where he wants to put them.    I thought they were dying because of the yellow leaves.  Austin says it’s ok, they’re deciduous – the trunks are green and they’ll photosynthesize there.

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A memory that angel trumpet pollen cannot erase:   See the pretty oranges in the tree?  They are not oranges (mandarin), they are lemons (moli).   A few years ago a dear guest from England made a fruit salad. She bought the fruit at the market in Suva (papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and some imported apples), and used the fully ripe moli as oranges.  I have forgotten almost every fruit salad I ever ate.  Not that one!
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