Friday, February 20, 2009

A belated apology—perhaps—

to the people who used to do our pool.

Amongst the other new (to us) things that were on the property when we moved here were a reasonably large swimming pool & a macadamia tree. It was the concept of the tree that appealed to me—a nutbush inside city limits—because though we'd had a small garden in Sydney, the only fruit-bearing tree we managed to grow was a not-so-large lemontree in a pot. & because the particular chemistry of pools was something I was unfamiliar with, we kept on the pool people who'd been maintaining it during the time the house was empty prior to the sale being finalized.

I have to interrupt myself here to say that I do not particularly like macadamias. They have shells that need specialized equipment to crack, & the nut itself is too floury & fatty for my tastes. I don't mind them in salted & roasted mixed nut assortments where there aren't that many of them; but on their own, whether cooked or raw or coated in chocolate—let me just say I find no trouble in passing them by.

Anyway. That first season we were here, we had about ten macadamias on the tree. That to the novice is a CROP! But, because I didn't like them, I didn't pick them, just would visit them occasionally to gaze at them, as if they were a favorite painting, or a flower, or some such thing.

Then, a day after the pool guy had been, I went down the back to treat my sight buds & discovered that all the macadamias had gone. I'm not a great believer in coincidence, plus the pool place had a high turnover of staff so by that time I had as much knowledge about keeping the pool pH-balanced & algae-free as the newbies they were sending around, so we dispensed with the outside help.

That was five years ago. In the interim we've planted a passionfruit vine which, with much watering, has grown along/around/on the pool fence & actually gone on to weave its way through the macadamia tree & thicken all the foliage to the extent that last year's heavy rain caused a tree branch & its accompanying vine to break off. But the watering & the rain also provoked the macadamia to be fairly fruitful—nutful?—& we discovered that the tree next to it was actually a lychee when it also started fruiting—not too productively; the fruit grow quite high up, in difficult to reach places, &, against the competition of possums & birds & fruit bats & the elements & natural attrition, we got to eat two lychees last year, one this.

But we have a surfeit of macadamias this year. There are about fifty sitting in a bowl on the outside table, plus more on the tree. & so I get to my possible apology.

About an hour ago I went outside for a regular cigarette break & saw a sulphur-crested white cockatoo sashaying its way delicately up & through the macadamia tree, definitely on the prowl, & its only possible target the macadamias. I don't know what the jaw strength of the white cockatoo is, but I remember being up close & personal with black cockatoos when I lived in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, & they used to be able to snap wrist-thick branches with their beaks. So maybe, just maybe, the great macadamia heist of five years ago wasn't the work of the pool guy. Though, on the flipside, I cannot see a single cockatoo having the capacity to carry off ten macadamias in its craw, nor do I recall a chain gang of cockatoos ravaging the tree.

Back to the pool guy!


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