An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review - Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

Mabanckou is a French speaking Congolese and his is a fresh voice on the literary scene. Whilst not strictly speaking a novel in its modern sense this is an uplifting and joyous read, The narrator, clearly unreliable since he is a recurrent drunk, relate tales told to him by various customers at the Congolese bar Credit Gone West. His little notebook, forced on him by the bar's owner the Stubborn Snail, gradually fills with riveting little lives until he slowly reveals his own version of his own story. The lives he shows us are not our western lives but the problems are similar. Mabanckou writes in a consistently engaging way with scant regard for traditional grammar and punctuation but he always takes the reader with him. Filled with asides to great literature this text shines with a light from within.

Only two of Mabanckou's books have been translated so far but I await more with bated breath.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

3 not 2

Now here's a turn-up for the book. Until January I thought that we had 2 varieties of olive tree growing in our grove. I even thought I knew both varieties - Koroneikei and Rethymniote. Imagine my surprise then when it dawned on me that we actually have 3 varieties.

I had observed in previous years that some of our trees come into flower earlier than others but this year the difference in blossom time prompted some serious thought. Some of what we refer to as "the house olives" were starting to bloom in January and February when we harvested them. The bulk of the trees - the eating olives (Rethymniote) and the main-crop oil olives (Koroneiki) started to bloom this week (April 2010).

This prompted, as I said, some serious thought and ongoing investigation. There are maybe 11 of these trees that bloom early and close examination reveals that the trunks are bigger in girth than the Koronekei but not ancient like the Rethymniotes. The leaves are subtly darker green and the bark is rougher. They are bigger too (particualry height wise or height aspirationally). With hindsight it may well be the case that the fruit matures earlier in the season but we shall keep a close eye on them come October November and watch for drop behaviour.

On reflection I had known for some time that the Koroneikei require another variety to help with pollination but had always assumed that either the Rethymniotes did that or that other olive trees in the valley did. Perhaps these 3rd way olives do it.

Well, you live and you learn and as to identifying the variety I shall pursue the issue but my main thread of investigation will be to do with which varieties need very little winter chill to produce flowering (there is some 1950s research on this topic that I am tracking down).