September 4, 2021

The other day my postman put a few lychees in a bag near my mailbox. How sweet was that? He and I have had a number of friendly conversations about the things we grow in our gardens. Last spring, I remember him noticing that I had pineapple guava shrubs along an old stone wall in my front garden. He said the fruit was delicious and I should trying eating them. It was May and the shrub line up had lots of beautifully delicate blossoms. I read you can put the flowers in a salad or add them to ice tea. It seems they taste fruity and sweet with a little bit of a tangy flavor. The fruit is also edible, and can be blended into smoothies, or used as a fruit topping for ice cream and yoghurt. I noticed quite a few flowers on the shrubs that spring and had planned to try eating the fruit sometime later. With further research I found out that you could tell when the pineapple guava fruit was ripe when they dropped to the ground. But I never got the chance to taste any, as the squirrels ate every single one before a single one dropped to the ground. 

One day, in early summer, I remember this same gardening postman telling me of the many fruit trees he had in his garden. At that time, I had a bounty of tomatoes and I gave him a half dozen or so.

Fast forward to the lychees making their appearance on my front porch. The postman had even written a note on the bag, telling me what they were and who they were from him. I have to admit I had heard of lychees, but can’t remember actually seeing one before. (Glad he labeled the bag. They kind of reminded me of liquidambar pods and I would never eat a liquidambar pod.) I put them in a bowl on my kitchen counter and they sat there, untouched, for a number of days. Finally, I got up the courage to try one. But first I needed to figure out how to eat them—I had no idea what to do. I located a Youtube video to help me out. It featured a Swedish couple, and they talked about the fruit and how to eat it. This is what they said, in my own words. “Gently squeeze a lychee pod between your thumb and index finger. It should open easily, revealing a small whitish ball of juicy fruit flesh. Pop it into your mouth and nibble the fruit, but don’t eat the seed that is also inside the pod.” They said the fruit was sweet and tasted like a grape. Notice I said gently squeeze…because I forgot that part when I opened my first one. I squeezed with a bit too much gusto. Something that looked very much like a gooey eyeball hit me in the chest. And a fair amount of juice ran down my shirt. I finally got ahold of the fruit and popped it into my mouth, careful not to eat the seed. Actually, the seed is huge and I can’t imagine eating it. Good thing I was not tempted because lychee seeds are poisonous. The whole encounter was not really a good first taste of something new. I decided I would eat only that one. Because, if I got sick or died that night, I might be able to decide later whether or not I would be eating any more. I didn’t get sick and I’m still here. I’ve eaten a few more, but not many. 

I don’t often do still life art. (See 5/30/2020, 1/25/2020, 1/11/2020 posts for other examples.) I am calling this week’s still life art “Lychee in a la fermiere yoghurt jar.” I really like the colors and textures. The organic and prickly/leathery lychees inside the periwinkle blue container look nice, I think. A friend gave me a half dozen of the jars and I use them for a variety of artistic endeavors. For example, I keep all my ink samples in a couple and use another to hold water for quick watercolor art when I’m on the move. It’s a perfect size, and fits nicely in my smaller backpack. And what about the charming wine-colored felt star? Nice, huh? I should add that a dear friend made it, along with several other colorful stars. It was part of a gift she gave me one year. I have them on my work table and use them all the time as coasters. I put cups of tea, cappuccino and/or ice water on them. She is quite an artist in her own right and often makes amazing things with felt—very cool!

Not really sure how many lychee eyeballs I will be eating in the future. I thought I would thank my postman for the fruit by giving him this sketch. I won’t tell him that I’m not sure I will be eating all the lychees. Of course, he may not like the sketch. But I guess he could drop it in the mail and I would get it back. I’m sure we will both be polite and say nothing disagreeable. How could I? His gift was so thoughtful. We need to keep reaching out to each other. That’s as it should be.

And yes, the west is still on fire. I was so disheartened to see Tahoe burning. I know there are so many of us who are facing horrendous, and deadly, weather right now. But I think we should treat each other with as much kindness and understanding as we can. Maybe you have a friendly postman you can chat with. 

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