Two years ago, I was marveling at the beauty of perusing through our at-home garden. Yesterday, after work, I took that same walk and came back as enchanted as before.
This time, one of our fruit trees brought a smile to my face for memories came rushing back as I looked at its budding fruits. I had caught sight of dad’s weak but strong apple tree; a tree more than one – including us – often look at with an incredulous expression wondering whether it could possibly bear fruits in Haiti or not.
Our doubts about the apple tree’s fruitfulness had started the day dad had brought the crop back 20 something years ago. He had gone on yet another one of his famous hikes through the hills of Kenscoff, hikes that, as I mention in this blog’s introduction, often led to tasty adventures. That day, on one of his regular visits to a local farm’s retail location, he had found out that apples actually grew and bore fruits in Furcy, a town located further up at a good 30 minute drive from Fermathe where we reside.
The fruit tree amateur that dad is immediately decided that he had to plant a tree at home. He thus asked for a crop that he proudly showed us as soon as he got home, not without receiving blank stares from us. We simply couldn’t believe that tree would produce at our location. Yes, it would grow and give a tree, but at a lower and slightly warmer altitude could it possibly bear fruits like they did in Furcy?
In spite of our reservations, dad planted it right in the middle of our yard. For years we watched that tree grow and made fun of its weak leafless stems and branches all the while telling him that his apple tree was just taking up space and would never give him fruits. Each time, my dad simply turned a deaf ear to us. He firmly believed his apple tree would one day surprise us, and rightfully so.
About 10 to 15 years later, dad walked in with his very first apple with a proud grin on his face. Still dubious, we watched as he cut through the fruit with a knife handing us each a small piece of apple to sample. The fruit was green and tart but we all liked it. As we say here, the apple had “caractère;” it was promising. Unfortunately, the tree only produced that one apple that year, thus not quieting our critiques. We were still not convinced it would ever be an abundant tree.
Through the years, that apple tree proved us wrong, however. Though it still looks like a weak tree, which branches can crack anytime, it produces more and better tasting fruits. With each new harvest, we discover sweeter and less tart apples that enchant our palate to such a point that today we’re attached to the tree, which growth we watch closely.
We’re constantly monitoring it to make sure we don’t lose too many fruits to our infamous birds. Indeed, when it comes to the apples, we’re also raging an endless war against them, for these creatures simply cannot seem to satisfy their fruity cravings with our peaches, mandarines and mulberries “rezen” that we reluctantly share with them at each harvest. They love our apples so much that they go as far as eating the green unripe fruits in spite of our efforts to push them away.
We’re watching the tree so closely that dad won’t skip any occasion to tell friends and family who visit us and voice their doubts about its fruitfulness, about our dubious reaction to that tree when he brought it home that day. He always calls on us to confirm that it indeed produces fruits and that we have all developed a taste for them.
So to you I repeat, yes we do grow apples in Haiti. They may not look as perfect as the ones from abroad or even taste the same, but they have caractère. And that in itself is enough to make them great.