Friday, 25 October 2019

Bears and 'strawberries'

Chilly, grey, wet - a miserable day, typical of late October. The chill I can deal with, but the rain decided it for me - it was to be a day in, a day for curling up with a decent book. I am reading a book by Jane Isaac. It's hardly deathless prose but she lives in Northamptonshire and the occasional mention of the county helps things along.

Leaves were being tugged off nearby trees by a gusty wind and they kept flitting across the window like tiny birds. As I glanced up I realised that the rain had stopped, or at least paused. Slipping on a pair of shoes, I ventured into the garden, glad of a chance to grab a few lungfuls of fresh air.

Our Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo, is covered in ivory-white flowers. Last year most of the flower buds were destroyed by caterpillars but this time they have escaped the damage. We should get a good crop of the bright but inedible fruit.

Our strawberry tree is currently a lovely sight.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 25 October, 2019
Following the depredations of last year the tree only bears one fruit. It is larger than average but next autumn the 'strawberries' should be more numerous but smaller.
Most of the blossoms were destroyed last autumn so we only have
a single fruit. Surely we can improve on that in 2020.

In Lisbon there is a famous statue of a bear climbing a strawberry tree to get at the fruit. It is known to the inhabitants of that city as 'El Oso y El Madrono'. (In Portuguese the fruit of the strawberry tree are 'Medronhos'.)

Lisbon's Coat of Arms is a bear climbing a strawberry tree.
Understandably I am now keeping a wary eye on our back garden but so far no bear has appeared. I won't tell Chris as she won't sleep.

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