Tag Archives: fruit

Something Quite Appeeling

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

I, Sir Nathaniel Aloysius Carlisle Humperdink Elderwine XIII, Esq., have accepted to undertake scientific exploits from Her Majesty’s Panel of Frivolousness (HMPF). In my first experiment, I have been commissioned to determine whether or not nail clippings can truly be peeled like bananas. Being selected to test a hypothesis like this was not only a great honour, but a chance to prove myself at panel. It seems the chairman has come to the assertion his clippings are often shaped like bananas, and as such, could be peeled like them. This is an unsurprising declaration from the venerable prolocutor, as bananas have always been his favorite food. On one specific occasion, it has been rumored the Speaker of the Panel arrived at the department gates to find our chairman planting several banana trees in the council room.

First, I needed to obtain a sample of nails for the experiment. While it wasn’t immediately known where I could find such material, I set out to the forest to harvest such a curious item. Many hours were spent in wooded areas admiring the complex nature of these… animals? Vegetables? Minerals? It was a rather good mystery regarding taxonomy. How long has it taken for these… things… to evolve such wonderful camouflage? I dare say millions, maybe even billions, of years. Albeit a bit discouraged, I sat upon a log in a clearing. A strange sight it was! The rather metallic trunks of the tree had grown perpendicular branches exactly two meters in length in front of it. Nature has such a mathematical precision about her! Brilliant, I say! It was almost made for sitting.

During my rest, I was greeting by a nymph of the forest. I knew she was magical, as she was as brown as bark and her head bore four great dimples similar to a fort post. She was as stunning as she was mystifying. The dryad before me conveyed a warning. She said I had not respected the ways of the enchanted forest, and must seek my way out. I was simply dismayed! What have I done to offend nature’s garden? Apparently, making a campfire from the magical barrel of tinder and hunting the rolling beasts at the edge of the forest upset the wood nymph. I had always been under the impression that pack animals made for great sport and fine dining. Little did I know my sabre would prove poor armament against the herd and I was quickly routed in the scuffle.

Upon my trek outward, the dryad insisted upon following me. Undoubtedly, this made me quite nervous as nymphs as well as other enchanted creatures of the forest have been known to make mischief upon weary adventurers. I pressed onward quickly, as to confuse the sprite of my location, but she was now hot on my heels. Using leopard-like maneuvers, I began to climb trees and bound from branch to branch. My skill has not be matched by anyone alive to date! There was little fortune in this action though, as one of the trees dropped its limb and I plummeted toward the Earth. My troubles were far from over, as my landing was situated at the top of a ravine. The bulk of my supplies, as well as few articles of clothing, began to scatter themselves along the bank. I was not able to stop, until a boulder proved a sufficient barrier.

An adventurer/physic/scientist/noble does not let adversity stand in the way of their goals. It would be much easier to retire to my estate after such misfortune, and nurse my wounds with gin and tonic. However, the stoutest of hearts share their lives with history pages, and I took heart once again. My bravery was rewarded with treasure. During my equipment check, my assessment noted the loss of one shoe. I do adore my oxblood wingtips, and grieved a bit for its demise but this grief quickly dissipated once I saw a banana-like formation dangling from my extremity. Carefully, I plucked it from its roost upon my big toe and flipped through my illustrated journal. Indeed! It was exactly the material I needed to proceed with my experiment. The enchanted forest had taken pity on me, and blessed my feet with the power of producing this curious product. Truly, science does not always have the answers to Mother Nature’s abilities. I’ll have to instruct Martha, my faithful servant, to notify me of any other produce the next time she is grooming my feet.

Back in my laboratory, I found my work far from over. It would seem this fruit, as it were, is not to the same scale as my hands. A tragedy indeed, as I am unable to manually peel anything of that size. This required some serious thought. I spent most of the evening up in my study researching books of size. Big books, little books, and mid-sized books all held nothing of value. A setback like this could prove the end of any adventure, but there was room for one last try. Sitting on my throne of the glistening white, I recalled a play from Thomas and Gerald where Thomas made a compact meal of Thanksgiving dinner via the use of alum.

The laboratory could not be close enough. I made a makeshift basin of a mixing bowl and a concoction of one part alum and nineteen parts water. Moving quickly meant less time to reconsider, as the bleeding edge of science can terrify any man. I dipped my hands into the mixture and waited. Minutes were hours in this tortuous game of patience. By the benchmark of ten and five minutes, I retracted my palms to examine the result. There was no noticeable change in the size of my hands, only an advance in age as fine wrinkles appeared on my fingers. Complete failure! In a rush of frustration I dashed the bowl upon the floor and swiped several texts from their shelves. This was not going to be a favorable report for the chairman.

Martha, hearing the calamity, burst through my laboratory doors. She was afraid I had turned myself into ghost again and was trying to walk through walls like last time. Upon seeing my distraught state, I reluctantly told her of my misfortunes. Maybe she thought I was practicing my Vaudevillian skills, as she began laughing hysterically. A flush of anger came over me and I erupted with a passionate objection to which she said, “if you want to play around with your toe nails so badly, why not use some tweezers?” Of course, it’s not my hands that need to be small, rather small instruments. I’m very fortunate to be able to translate plebeian observation into useful scientific action.

With two tweezers and a pair of loops “borrowed” from the jewelry store down the road, I hit my biggest break yet. The texture of the fruit revealed several horizontal lines, something like baklava.  The tweezers were a bit clumsy at times, but with a little effort I found a person could peel portions off the clippings like a banana. Burning Bunsens, it actually worked! I was left with a rough inner core, which was presumably the edible reward of my toil.

The “meat” of the fruit was crispy, flaky, and had a slight nutty taste. A bit dry, I found myself in need of a beverage afterward. It was truly of Divine inspiration overall. Wait until the chairman hears my report! He’ll be delighted beyond words.

As you can see, my dear reader, anything is possible with a lion’s heart and a terrier’s tenacity. You’d do well to remember that on your future journeys. Until next time, I bid you adieu.

Yours Very Truly,

N. A. C. H. Elderwine XIII, Esq.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 4, Part 2 of 4)

Old Town

“We’re looking for this man. Have you seen him?” Benelli held up a computerized sketch of Tiny, recreated from the best of Sig’s memory. The two spent most of the day hitting up every florist they could find in the vicinity. All of it was tiring footwork. No one liked to be harassed by the cops around there, especially when it drove away paranoid customers. There’s a saying on the other side of the river: “everyone has a rap sheet in Old Town.” It wasn’t without a little merit.

“I don’t know who that is.” The clerk at the final flower shop dismissed them in short order, and went back to throwing cheap flowers in a second-hand vase for the budget section. He reeked of gin, and looked like he hadn’t seen a bathtub in days. Both of them stepped out of the shop a little disappointed. Benelli turned to her partner and asked the inevitable.

“That was the last of them. Got any other bright ideas?” The sentence was punctuated by two cats going at it around the corner.

“Maybe we’re not approaching this problem the right way. It’s always possible they wouldn’t talk to the police. It’s not like we’ve done them any favors over the years.” Sig stared out into space.

“If that’s the case, then we totally blew it. They’ve already seen us once. The thieves would have to do something to make it a losing strategy to keep quiet, like make a shop owner go missing. Trying it again another day would be stupid.”

“True, or…” Sig’s voice trailed off and he started to blink like something flew in his eye.


“…or he’s not buying them from a store.”

Benelli knew their current conversation was now secondary, as the vacant look meant he was out to lunch. If gears were turning in his head, the smoke would surely follow. She pictured a hamster running as fast as it could on a wheel, then collapsing from exhaustion. As irritating as it was, she learned by now not to take it personally.

“He’s not buying them from a shopkeeper.” Sig finally came back to the real world. “They might just be telling us the truth after all.”

“So, where is he getting them? You said yourself he wasn’t getting them from the graves.”

“Sure, but there’s still more than one way to buy flowers around here.” He stopped to put a cigarette in his mouth. “I’m willing to bet there’s a travelling merchant on the street.” With a short point, he made out a kiosk to the north of them.

“How are we going to find them? Street vendors roam and we could be on the hunt for days.” Benelli was disappointed in the long shot. It was starting to sound like he was getting desperate, and wasting time wasn’t much of a hobby for her.

Sig frowned at the question and then added, “word of mouth.” A small light from a Zippo could be seen inside the palm of Sig’s hand. “They have their own little trade organization down here. They’ll talk each other up, if there’s something in it for them. It’s the best advertising they can get at this level. Everyone helps everyone else out. You know, quid pro quo.”

“How can he string all of his wild theories together to sound so plausible?” Benelli thought. It drove her nuts, but it was all that they had at this point. A shot in the dark was better than back to the drawing board. Sig was already walking across the street at the vendor he saw. She decided to stay there and let him do all of the work this time. She needed a break from the race.

“Hey buddy, how much for the apple?” Unwittingly, Sig walked straight up to the man whose cart recently became part of the car chase obstacle course. Fortunately for him, the merchant never got a good look at his face. The corpulent senior looked up attentively, after he put the pen down on his crossword puzzle.

“30 cents,” replied the immigrant. “You look like a shrewd man, and shrewd men know it’s the best deal you’ll find around here.”

“Great. I’ll take that, a peach, and a pint of blueberries. By the way, I’m looking to pick up some flowers for a special someone. Do you know where I could get that on the street? All of the florists around here don’t have anything I want.”

The old man’s eyes sparkled and a smile spread across his face. “Aha! You’re in trouble with your lady friend, ah?” He nodded toward Benelli on the other side of the street. “You’re wise to beg for forgiveness. You’re also a lucky man. My wife sells flowers to people who want to remember their dead. You can find her near the graveyard.”

It never occurred to Sig that there were still grieving people in Old Town. Where else would they go? The proximity would also be perfect for Tiny. The times didn’t jive well, but he could always loiter about during the daytime. He’s obviously not the brains of the operation.  Sig handed a few crumpled bills to the seller and denied his change. A sense of accomplishment came over the fruit seller, as he thought all of his work paid off. Little did he know it could have been twice the price, and Sig would still have paid him.

“Thanks, friend, I’m always around if you want more fruit!” The merchant beamed not only for the profit from the sale, but the prospect of future income. Sometimes the small things in life mean a lot. Sig tucked the produce under his arm and trotted back to his partner.

“You starting a health food kick?” Benelli was eying the peach. She hadn’t eaten much all day, and she was starting to get curt. Not being as dense as he looked, Sig tossed the fruit to her. “Here, it looks like you’re going to pass out.”

With the bite of peach still in her mouth, Benelli mumbled,“what did you find out?” The sticky sweet juice dribbled down her chin as manners were for another day. Sig bit into the apple dramatically. “We need to go to Chestnut Grove to pay our respects.”

 © 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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