Friday, 18 July 2008

The Claude Rains Reine Claude

We have a Reine Claude plum in the garden, which I muddle with the film actor and tend to call Claude Rains.

She, Queen Claude, is a greengage; apparently so-called in England because the French name was lost in transit and it was the Gage family who imported her.

Mind you, she (the French version) tastes much juicier and sweeter than the small, hard, very green greengages I remember from English childhood.

I've been clearing the long grass from round her feet and pruning out the dead, lichen covered twisted twiggy bits. The dead bits are deceptive and it's all too easy to find I've cut off a bit that has leaves as well.

She has much less fruit than last year. We hardly noticed her in the early days of unpacking. By the time we did, most of her fruit had rotted or fallen off and many of her leaves were brown and diseased.

This winter, she's had a good dose of wood ash and whether that or the wet Spring, she has rewarded us with lush, healthy foliage and fat juicy fruit.

Her branches come right to the ground and as I prune, hidden under her green canopy, I can hear Serge baling the straw from his harvested winter wheat. His tractor chugs along with a red box behind that gathers up the straw. Every so often the chugging and whirring increases as a door at the back of the box spews out a circular bale and then clangs shut.

The last few days have been like living in a vacuum cleaner, with the deep sucking roar from the combine harvesters working the fields around us far into the night.

Once the baling's done, life will be quieter.

Reine Claude
Claude Rains

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