Thursday, January 19, 2012


FRUIT, n. s. [fructus, Latin; frwys, Welsh; fruit, French.]
1. The product of a tree or plant in which seeds are contained.

The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best,
Neighbor'd by fruit of baser quality. Shakesp. Henry V.

2. That part of the plant that is taken for food.

See how the rising fruits the garden crown,
Imbibe the sun, and make his light their own. Blackmore

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

Opening a papaya: the contrast between the beautiful colored flesh of the fruit and the black mass of seeds is startling.

All fruit is best eaten in season and close to where it was grown.
Our son and daughter-in-law were married in Calcutta. A second reception was given in Jargram by her parents a few days later. The afternoon before the big party we relaxed in warm, December sunlight in their yard which was filled with fruit trees that would never survive in Michigan. A papaya was harvested, pared and served - nothing like the ones I thought I had enjoyed from our supermarket. It will remain in my mind as one of my ultimate eating experiences.

The meadowlark (Sturnella magna) eats seeds, insects and worms so the fruits it stands with are probably pretty safe - a peaceable kingdom. The plants involved in the drawing span the seasons from early spring violets and a Siberian iris, to early summer Queen Anne cherries and the beneficial blueberries that are harvested here in August.

In this drawing of a peach all the elements echo some aspect of each of the others.

The ovary walls of the flowers in the genus Prunus harden or lignify, creating their distinctive stones or pits which protect the seed inside. The peach has such a pit hidden inside it. The striated skin of this species has some of the aspects of the linear quality of the paper it is sitting on. The piece of paper is unique in that I made it in an experiment many years ago but it is traditional in employing one of the four classic patterns used in marbling - the stone design. The actual stones placed on the paper are from my collection of ringed rocks. They echo both the shapes and the linear aspects of the paper.

There are many kinds of china that are not just decorated with fruits and flowers but replicate shapes - for instance, cabbages that are soup tureens. In an antique shop in Shakespeare, Ontario I once saw a set of incredible cups in the shape of tulips. They were frighteningly expensive and certainly worth it but well beyond what I would ever have been able to justify spending. I still dream about them.

I have taken the idea a step closer to nature. Here a brilliant oriental poppy pretends to be a bowl containing a serving of raspberries. Currants are scattered around the table that the poppy sits on. An edible landscape.