Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Tale of two Pomegranates

Well, actually two pomegranate trees, but you get the picture

When I was growing up, my family often visited my grandparents in El Paso. In that hot desert environment, a traditional yard, with big green lawns, was out of the question. Instead, most of the yard was desert plants, and there was a walled garden in front of the house. The walls could shelter plants from the harshest of the dry winds and provide some shade from the fierce sun. But even within the walled garden, the plants that could thrive were desert plants. At the center of the garden was a pomegranate tree.

A pomegranate is a challenging fruit. It has evolved to do well in a desert. If you break the fruit open, you will see that it has a thick peel to reduce the amount of moisture lost to dry desert winds. Within the peel, there is additional flesh to protect the seeds, encased in lovely strings of garnet-colored jewels of moisture, very sweet with extra sugar to provide a bird with energy to survive – but you have to work to pry each one out of the protective flesh. Each seed comes with its own little precious drop of moisture, a gift to entice a bird to eat it, but the structure of the pomegranate protects that moisture and sugar. A bird has to break open the fruit in order to gain its bounty. But once the bird does get the fruit, the pomegranate’s seed then is distributed in the bird’s droppings.

My grandparents’ pomegranate tree lived in luxury. It was in a sheltered garden, and there was always a competent gardener to take care of it. But at the doublewide Pat and I are currently renting in T or C, there’s a pomegranate tree that does justice to the plant’s desert heritage. It’s out front, right in the middle of where all of the tenants park their cars and trucks, growing out of hard-packed dirt with some gravel mixed in. It’s not protected from anything. This time of year, it doesn’t look like much, but it still has hanging from it dozens of dried-out fruit that it produced last year that were beyond what the birds could consume.

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