Back in June I wrote about the agave that was beginning to flower in the garden of some friends here in the valley. Initially a huge stalk – looking rather like a giant asparagus spear – grew from the centre of the spiky leaves. As the agave dies once it has flowered, it’s probably as well that the stalk’s growth and subsequent appearance of the flowers takes place over the course of several weeks.
Yesterday morning The Boss and I went to check out the progress of this Mediterranean plant. The Boss took his iPod to capture some images to send to our friends (currently back in the UK) and I used my Nikon’s zoom lens to focus on the detail of the lofty yellow flowers.
The once-sturdy leaves at the base of the plant are now beginning to droop, as all the energy has gone into producing the spectacular flower. What struck us most was the huge number of bees swarming around the blooms. The property has some old hives and the bees often fly over to visit our finca’s bird baths, but we haven’t seen many for a few days. We know little about bees (except that The Boss doesn’t react too well to being stung) but, from what we’ve observed, they love anything that’s yellow. They’re certainly loving the agave flower, but for how much longer? Only time will tell . . .
On Sunday we decided to combine a morning walk around the valley with a few tasks involving our neighbours.
First stop was the finca of our friends Peter and Maureen, to take photos of their rather impressive agave ‘flower’. It still appears to be growing and, for the time being, there’s no sign of the thing keeling over in its death throes. Our friends have a plum tree, seemingly growing out of a concrete terrace, and in previous years they’ve been able to harvest plenty of fruit. This year, it had just six plums growing and Peter told us to help ourselves when they were ripe. Having done our David Bailey bit with the agave, we picked the few fruits – which were at the point of perfection.
With three in each pocket of my shorts, we continued down to our German neighbours, where we delivered a bottle of Mallorcan Sa Rota wine from Bodegas Bordoy in Llucmajor. This was our way of thanking them for a recent gift of oranges, courgettes and lemons from their garden. Many years ago they kept horses and, because of that, their land is very fertile. Ours isn’t, which means we can’t reciprocate with any produce of our own. But we’ve found an arrangement that seems to suit both giver and receiver: a thank-you gift of grapes-in-a-bottle.
Halfway through our walk, plum juice started to seep through my shorts: the motion of walking had bruised the fruit, so we had no choice but to eat them as we went. And they were delicious. We were still licking the juice from our lips when we passed the old pig farm – now used mainly for arable crops (although there are always two porkers snuffling around under their huge fig tree). Toni – the Mallorcan who works the land there – called out a greeting and offered us some of his plums. The branches of his old tree were heavily laden with the ripe fruit. He whipped a plastic carrier bag out of his pocket and, minutes later, it was full of plums.
In a Jam
Our next stop was the house of another friend, Michael, who has a few fig trees. He’s not on the island at the moment and can’t take advantage of the figs that are already ripe. So we came to an agreement with the wasps that were taking advantage of the seemingly unwanted figs and managed to pick a few without being stung.
With such a lovely bounty of fruit, there was only one thing to do when we returned home: despite the heat of the first full day of summer, I set to and made three pots of fig jam. When Michael returns to his island home, we’ll give him a pot and he’ll be able to taste the fruits of his own garden labours.