FRUIT OF THE VINE
This is one of the panels from my wallhanging "Fruits in my Garden."
Grapes would have to be about my favourite food. I simply cannot pass a bowl of them without plucking several from the bunch to eat. A few more "passes", and they are gone! When some people eat grapes, they leave a fastidious little pile of skins and seeds...what a waste! The seeds are so crunchy. When I was a child in England, I seem to recall we had a breakfast cereal called "Grape Nuts"...... crunchy little pellets not unlike the real thing.
When the Devon Cottage garden and myself were both in our heyday, I had several grapevines growing. Most of them were the old Isabella variety, a purple grape that seems to do well on Norfolk, and has been growing in the old gardens for decades.
Most of the vines were sacrificed to make way for the more industrial enterprises of our younger generation, but there are still two or three vines there, bravely asserting their right to a place in the sun next to the tall timber dividing fences. There is also a very flavoursome little green grape which climbs over the early plums. They are all rather early bearers, and I find I need to share the fruit with the birds, who are always in search of something succulent and thirstquenching in the drier summer months.
I was delighted the other day when Charles brought me some lovely chilled bunches from the garden at the Pitcairn Settler's Village, where the grapes are evidently doing very well this year. On Norfolk, where no fruit is imported, we must enjoy what is seasonal and make the most of it. In fact, the climate is so mild and equable, that one almost marks the seasons by what trees are in fruit. At the moment, we are savouring figs, China pears, rockmelon, the last of the plums, and succulent little pineapples. In the next few weeks we will be picking feijoas and persimmons. I notice that the yellow Jamaican passionfruit are changing colour also. In the winter months we will have a variety of citrus, and the very juicy custard apples. Visitors to the island often find it hard to come to terms with the lack of fruit and vegetables in the shops, are do not appreciate the seasonality of what is available in a place where only potatoes and onions, garlic and ginger, can be imported.
Most of the fruit grown on Norfolk Island comes from home gardens, and the market is rather small to make commercial production viable. However, the fruit that we do get to enjoy, whether it is grown in our yards, given by friends and neighbours, or purchased from a store or a stall, is always fresh and naturally ripened.
Funnily enough, the best supplies of fresh produce are obtained from the island's three Butcher's shops!
"Plun" (bananas) are available most of the year round, and someone with a large bunch all ripening at once is always ready to share them around.
Then there are the cherry guavas (known as "porpay) which grow wild all over the place, and are freely available for the picking. Even the dog enjoys them! Peter's dog Mitti is shown here picking her own guavas from the bush in our front garden.