THE CANTALOUPE CURTAIN, with Mourning doves….
I had planted some cantaloupe seeds in little planters, and noted how vigorously and on time they grew –appearing just in about 3-4 days. I like the look of this plant, with its broad light-green leaves and yellow blossoms and its tendrils, always on the move, always sensing where to go.
As I sat savoring the growth of all the plants, the idea for a “Cantaloupe Curtain”came to me.
What if I were to take three large containers (I use those 5 gallon plastic ones that are widely used for paint et cetera; I paint them to make them unobtrusive; I drill lots of holes in the bottom for drainage. ) I fill them with earth, and plant a few of the little cantaloupe plants in each one, and then arrange them in a row so that when their profuse vines grow I can train them upwards using those slender but strong bamboo stages that I cut from our hedge, and those handy twist-ties.
Even in two weeks they have made remarkable progress –some of the vines are now 3-4 feet long, with a multiplicity of blossoms with ever-attendant pollinating bees; and many tendrils, reaching out, making fast. I watched one tendril wrap itself 360 degrees around a bamboo rod the other day in just one hour.
The big pots are all in a row. The already luxuriant greenleaf vines and the floppy yellow blossoms grow up and up to the sky. I train the vines –using ties and tendrils– to meander. I sit by the side of the house, inside this curtain that the brilliant sun illumines from the other side –a treat of light and color and life. With the buzz of the bees and many smaller shimmering flying insects –one of whom darts and hovers with extraordinary precision– always in attendance, there is a ever-present feeling of life. Of buzz (if I may use the term.)
Already, some tiny cantaloupes have begun. Will they be too heavy for the stakes? I will solve that when I have to. The whole thing is quite exciting and part of that excitment is the fact that where I grew up (Cobh, County Cork in Ireland), cantaloupes did not.
I do hope to get all this on camera soon. I am being driven –I know it– to acquire a serviceable digital camera. Then you will be able to see my “cantaloupe curtain”.
Two things before I go. I have mentioned “my” birds –the birds that gather because I feed them. The mourning doves are becoming more tame every day, and perch ever closer. Some will even peck seed from my table as I write.
Now, some of the doves have taken to perching on the bamboo trellis of my cantaloupe curtain, adding their silhouettes to the shimmering whole. A month ago, none of this existed. Now it becomes itself more each day.
The second thing. I have derived such pleasure (and knowledge) and surprise over the years from etymology that it has become almost second nature to me now to look up the etymology of words that I am unfamiliar with.
Cantaloupe? Where does that word come from? Indeed, where does cantaloupe –the fruit, not the word– come from?
Cantaloupe –we are told– originates from a papal villa/village, Cantalupo near Rome. There was a community/commune in Cantalupo. Two different references tell us that the melons came from two different sources –one is Armenia; the other states that the Roman Army brought back the melon seeds from Persia. That’s going back a bit.
We are also told that one of the popes –Innocent II or the III, I can’t remember which– liked to drink his port wine out of half a cantaloupe.(Almost restores your faith, doesn’t it.?)
And the word Cantalupo? Two words, actually –‘canta’ and ‘lupo’. Meaning of course, “the song of the wolf”
How wonderful it all is.