Posted by: scribe9 | April 21, 2010

Seasonal fruit and birds

We seem to have finally reached the end of grape season. It lasted more than two months. We’ll miss not only the flavor but the scent—we and the people next door both have arbors.

Our neighbors swathed their grapes in something akin to cheesecloth (the American kind, not the New Zealand kind) to protect them from the birds. (Commercial vineyards do that, too.) We didn’t, but we were also lucky to have the vines growing over a somewhat dilapidated greenhouse. The birds couldn’t get a grip on the glass, so we were able to harvest grapes through missing panes in the roof long after we and the birds had finished the grapes on the arbor. Until a thousand years ago New Zealand was strictly for the birds—no land mammals except a few small bats—and not only have the native birds not forgotten, but they’ve taught it to all the immigrants.

The birds visiting our yard have changed with the seasons. We haven’t seen the colorful Eastern Rosella in months. We still have tuis (the namesake of our street) around, but they have different calls now that they did three months ago. After the techno neighbors moved out along with their cat (which was very fond of our greenhouse), we had a flock of a dozen sparrows visit our backyard frequently. After a month or so we got a new neighbor (another Amy), who doesn’t play any music loud enough for us to hear, but has two cats, so the sparrows don’t hang out any longer. And now we have a pair of New Zealand pigeons, with white bellies and iridescent green heads, necks and backs. They’re big—about twenty inches long—and when they take off their flight is noisy enough to be a bit startling.

The fact the grapes are done doesn’t mean we’re out of fruit. We’re very grateful to whoever landscaped the yard years ago and planted a succession of fruit. The tangerines, pears, and peaches are gone, but I picked a lemon this evening—they ripen all year—and the tree next to it in the front yard is bowed down with satsumas, which are almost ready to harvest. I think the birds will leave them alone as long as they’re on the tree.

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