Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

November 3, 2009

Fruity stories and Grampa's Grapple juice...

I spent an interesting day outside last week, anticipating below zero temps, and in that last minute panic seeing so much unharvested fruit in the yard, apples and grapes mostly. So in addition to unhooking the hose and sweeping some leaves up, I decided to pick whatever apples I could get off the trees and then pick all the green grapes that were hiding under those leafy vines. And there was a ton!

After an hour or two of gathering, I spent the rest of the evening in the kitchen, steaming and juicing grapes, and juicing red and yellow apples. Got about six pitchers of a mix I call Grampa's Grapple juice - and it really is good. Now it's been in the fridge for a week, with only Shane's taking a pitcher full, I hope it doesn't ferment and I get in trouble for illegal beverage distilling. We hadn't done much with the apples in the past, but did do more of the grape harvesting. But this year, the trees were so full, and still are, just had to try to make something out of them, inspired by Colleen's efforts with some of them on Conference weekend with apple sauce.

When we were in Hawaii, I loved harvesting and planting, usually in that order - because we always had coconuts and breadfruit in abundance. But had to plant papaya and bananas, even tried mangoes once, but were told they would take seven years to mature. Will never forget my efforts with bananas, fantasizing about my own big leafy plants and finding out we could buy them at the BYUH farm. So one Saturday, I headed over in my station wagon and came home with some big banana plants hanging out my back station wagon door. Forget those high-priced Chiquitas we got through many middle men from South America!

Our next door neighbor, Aaron Lim, was the farm manager, so he was the first one I went to to show off my fruity trophies, though of course there were no bunches on them yet. But I could dream, couldn't I? He came over to see how I had dug deep holes for these thick trunks and put enough water in them to start the growing process. And while I was admiring the new look in my garden, with those wondrous big leaves just greening up the place, Aaron asked for my machete. Ok, I thought - but why? The next thing I knew, he was whacking and hacking at my big leafy beauties like a mad man, chopping every last leaf off, till all that was left were ugly and non-picturesque stumps. I was all about plant aesthetics.

As I looked at him in disbelief, not knowing whether to get my own machete. assume the fencing position and shout "Engarde!" or just slump to the ground and blubber like a baby, he gave me some fast farm expertise, free of charge. He said that the plants would not root well if all the nutrients had to feed the leaves at the top, and that the leaves had to be chopped off so the stumps could take root, grow the leaves back, but also produce nice bunches. Which made a bunch of sense to me, after I got over my initial urge to kill. So eventually, the plants flowered and fruited nice bunches, and our papayas also did the same. And while we lived there in that Garden of Eden, we able to at least enjoy the "fruits" of our labors for a few years, once we got the hang of that Adam and Eve thing.

But back to our Orem yard for a big finale. We have had our fruit loops! We used to have apricots, three sprouting trees of them right out our front door - making such a mess in the front yard, we had to take them out. But I loved them. Then there were the cherry trees next to the carport - good for climbing on the roof and fixing the swamp cooler, but producing cherries so full of worms, we couldn't eat them. But we have burned many a cut-down branch in the fireplace in memory over the years. We had plums too, which stopped growing except for this year, when one small plum tree pretending to be a bush produced a gazillion. Our one good peach tree also gave us some gorgeous, tasty orbs this year, before the pesky birds could put their beaky marks on them.

Ah the harvest! What a great time of year. We did little to plant over the years, and didn't have much luck at that, spraying and praying now and then. But though we have been harvesting more than planting. I'm grateful for the chance to grow and harvest. "Whatever ye sow, that shall ye also reap." Well, we're still mostly learning how to sow when possible, hoping our harvest won't be rotten and sour - metaphorically speaking. Because if "we are sowing, daily sowing, countless deeds of good and ill", I don't have much hope for a great harvest - don't think I've sown much good but have certainly reaped from the efforts of others. Of course, my kids are my best products, a big joint effort with Colleen, who did all the work - and fortunately they got her good looks as a bonus. As for me, it's back to the briar patch to see if I can salvage anything to eat.


  1. MMMM...breadfruit! How I miss that tree! I've got to taste this Grapple juice. Sounds yummy!

  2. I think we just finished off our pitcher of Grapple juice. We better pick up some more.