Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Mikan Grove

And now for something completely different. Here is a short story from Annie Parmeter which I came across by accident yesterday. It was written when she was 11, and in year 6 at Moorestown College, St Peter - an independent school that, like so many others in Jersey in the 20th century, is now closed. It was written in 1973, and already shows a strong command of English.

If anyone wonders what "mikan" is, it is a kind of orange, technically called "citrus unshiu", which is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus. It is also called cold hardy mandarin, satsuma mandarin, satsuma orange, and tangerine. In Japan, this is known as mikan or formally unshu mikan.

One of the English names for the fruit, "satsuma", is derived from the former Satsuma Province in Japan, from which these fruits were first exported to the West. It is not the only province where they are grown, however, but it is the province from which they came to America in 1876. The towns of Satsuma, Alabama; Satsuma, Florida; Satsuma, Texas; and Satsuma, Louisiana were named after this fruit. But in the 1930s a cold spell wiped out the industry in North America.

The Mikan Grove
by Annie Parmeter

As the rising sun spread her rosy fingers over the mikan grove, the Matsumoto family made their way to their orchard, chatting all the while, carrying their great iron cooking pot to cook their breakfast, and baskets to harvest the tangerines.

On reaching the field, the grandfather began to make a fire and put the tripod and hook over it. When it was time for breakfast, he would fill the cooking pot with water from an icy mountain stream, and hang it on the tripod and hook to boil.

By now the members of the family were scattered over the orchard and had begun the harvest.

The trees seemed to slumber in the grove and, as the delicious orange moons were plucked from their branches, each tree reacted as if it were being woken up, by the pulling of its boughs. Dead leaves were falling off and revealing new tender green shoots, so that the trees looked as if they had been given a new coat of paint.

A little further down the road a majestic cypress reposed, as if frozen in time. Below, on the rocks, a fisherman tried his luck in the azure waters, poised like a heron, waiting for the fish to bite.

Out in the bay a tako-fisher laid his lines of jars from his agile craft, then moved on without even marking the place.

Even to this day, I am left wondering how he remembered where it was.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully descriptive and imaginative for the age of 11 years.

I could visualise that family in the grove. :)

Mo Pinwil

TonyTheProf said...

I have a whole exercise book, so there'll be more. It is wonderful stuff for 11 years old.