Swell performed well on her first sea trial!…but I gotta catch up on a few stories from the last month, so here goes the first:
I threw my bike in the bushes and slowly felt my way toward the barbed wire fence. The full moon had yet to rise, but I knew the fruit-laden pamplemousse trees lay just on the other side. I slipped carefully between the wire strands, stepping into the dark orchard.
A few months back, on a bike ride to town, I’d noticed this plot of pamplemousse trees alongside the road. The grapefruit-like fruits lay strewn all over the ground below. Never did I see a soul picking the fruit or tending the land. Every time I’d pass, I grew more and more disillusioned about these poor pamplemousse that grew gloriously only to fall to the ground and slowly rot.
One day I couldn’t take it, anymore. I snuck into the orchard and rescued four perfectly ripe pamplemousse on my way home, loading them into my bag, enjoying mouthfuls of the tart wedges for the rest of the week. I did the same during the following weeks, becoming convinced that no one would care anyway, until one day a tall, pointy French lady came to the edge of the fence as I stuffed a plump yellowish one into my pack.
“What are you doing? Do you know you are on private property? It is forbidden to take that fruit.” She said gravely in French.
“I’m so sorry,” I replied sincerely, “It’s just that all this fruit seems to be going to waste and I thought no one would mind if…” My words trailed off as her scowl deepened. I dumped the bag sheepishly and headed for the fence. “This land belongs to the hotel over there. I won’t report you this time, but don’t come back.” She asserted.
“I won’t,” I replied. “I didn’t think anyone would miss them.”
“It doesn’t matter,” She continued, “They don’t belong to you.”
Over the next few days I mulled over those pamplemousse. Which law was I to respect? Was it a crime to take the forbidden pamplemousse or a crime to let them fall to the ground uneaten?
“Before the French came,” my Tahitian friend told me a few days later, “The Tahitians would have given you all the fruit you wanted.”
… I wandered under the trees in the total darkness, tripping over the fallen fruit and brushing spider webs from my face as I felt blindly for ripe morsels hanging from low limbs. The ‘higher law’ had won out in my mind. Those pamplemousse wanted to be eaten! After filling my pack with fruit loot, I leaned against a thick tree trunk and dissolved into the darkness, the stillness, the silence, the cool night air, and the exhilaration of being somewhere I shouldn’t. A few minutes passed there. I smirked as if the trees were in on it with me. The moon then began to peek over the crater ridge behind the orchard, so as the veil of total darkness lifted, I took a moment to thank the trees, slipped back out onto the road, and peddled slowly home.