FRAGMENTS FROM THIS BOOK ABOUT FRUIT
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Tales of the Fruit Fairies
Nothing is as close to the light as a ripening fruit - the sun is always shining down on it and warming it with its streaming rays. In the springtime, when trees all around the world are in bloom, they are visited by magic fairies who come from the orchards of heaven. The fairies are garbed in white, pink and burgundy petals, which they gather from flowering fruit trees. They wash in water of the purest dew, and every once in a while one of them falls into a deep sleep in a fruit-tree blossom, lulled by the scent which they love so dearly. Out of those favoured blossoms grow the juiciest, most delicious of all fruits.
FRAGMENTS FROM THE BOOK
"THE FAIRY-TALE STORIES ABOUT FRUIT"
Feijoa and the Gifts of the Sea
The wide-beamed, richly-laden merchant ship surged onward, driven by the strong wind. A young woman in a white wool shawl stood at its stern, looking intently into the distance.
"Get down into the cabin," said the stern voice of a man in a satin caftan, the owner of the ship. "It's cold and the wind is getting stronger. There's a storm coming, my daughter, no point in staring out at the sea, you beloved isn't going to come running across the waves, now. In two weeks we'll be home. Right now that young man of yours is probably doing something with the trees in that orchard. I don't understand, my dear, just what do you see in that sallow-faced fellow with such a strange name? Feijoa, is it? Now, then, don't frown, I'll keep my word. If he can grow those fruits as he promised, in every color of the rainbow, then you shall be his bride."
The young woman did not answer, but turned and went back in silence to the cabin.
At that moment, on the faraway shore that her ship was making for, a young man wearing a green cloak was standing by himself. The wind was howling as the very same storm hurled huge waves against the land with all its force and whipped the sea-spray at the lone figure looking out to sea.
"Dear waves," he pleaded anxiously, "please bring my beloved safely back to me. O terrible wind! Drive her ship home to her native shore!"
But the young man's plea was in vain, for the ship did not return to port, and nobody knew what had happened to it. But the young man remained standing on the shore. His dark hair turned grey, the green cloak was worn away, and still he stood and pleaded with the sea to bring back his beloved.
Down at the bottom of the ocean, the king of the sea was busily planning a feast to celebrate his rich prize, for the merchant ship with all its cargo, crew and passengers were now his. He ordered the mermaids to cheer up the girl, shower her with pearls and show her all the wonders of the underwater world. Yet their efforts, like the young man's, were in vain - her sad eyes would not look at a single wonder, and she even refused the pearls. The king became angry, and stamped the seabed with his staff.
"Now, tell me, girl, just what about our undersea kingdom don't you like!?"
The girl turned courageously to the angry king and said, "O king of the sea, do you mean to tell me that you can't hear the voice of these waters of yours, or what the waves are singing? They are carrying the plea and grief of my beloved, who has lost his bride."
"Whoever enters my undersea kingdom is lost to the realms of the land," the king replied. "So you must forget about your beloved."
The beautiful girl lowered her eyes so that the king would not see her burning tears, but the sea itself spoke up on her behalf.
"Have mercy on the girl, my king! I have never seen such love, and my waves cry with grief when they hear the pleas of her young man."
The king grew thoughtful, and after a moment he made up his mind.
"Well, I cannot allow you to leave in human form, since the law of the sea forbids it. But I can turn you into a sea-breeze or a playful wave, and in that way you may run or fly to your beloved and be reunited with him. Choose any one of my gifts, and take it to him as a reward for his faithfulness."
The girl was overjoyed. She bowed deeply to the king, and said, "I would like to become a sea-breeze, that way I will see my beloved sooner. As for a gift, I choose the most precious of all the sea's possessions."
One day when the people came walking along the shore they noticed that where near the spot where the man in the tattered cloak still stood grew a little tree with a yellow trunk and silvery oval leaves. The sea-breeze was gently caressing the young tree, playing with its leaves and whispering something mysterious to each of its branches. In the spring, the tree blossomed, and on it appeared a strange fruit resembling a green plum covered with little bumps. Its flavor was sweet and sour at the same time, as if it were some mix of strawberry, pineapple and lemon. The people called it "feijoa".
The tree soon became famous, for its fruit was filled with invisible iodine, just like the waters of the sea. People who do not eat iodine begin to fall ill, and their thyroid gland swells up. Nobody wants that, and so they began to plan feyhoa trees in every land, but wherever the see-breeze did not play in its leaves, wherever its beloved did not bring the gifts of the sea, the tree did poorly and brought forth very little fruit. The tree suffered most of all from great heat. Whenever the temperature rose above 25 degrees its buds would wither and fall, for the tree pined for its beloved cool sea-breeze. Yet in places where citrus trees would die, the feijoa didn't even get a chill - for one who is familiar with the cold ocean wind, a mere frost is nothing!
To this day people don't understand where the feijoa tree gets its many fragrances from. Scientists have counted up to 93 different scents in its rich air, but they have identified only one out of every three, and even that was not a simple task! Maybe the sea breeze gathers them from the far corners of the earth and brings them to her beloved? Be that as it may, the feyhoa tree with all its fragrances and iodine-rich fruit is truly a mysterious gift!
One gardener thought he would plant a stand of feijoa trees close together, so that they would be happier. That way they will yield more fruit, he thought. How wrong he was! The sea-breeze had a hard time embracing the closely-bunched trees, and without her gifts the trees, in turn, gave but little gifts to him.
The feijoa is ever a lone tree on the shore, faithful to his beloved.