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sparrows and loquats

It's cold today; the heater is chugging along, making my living space warm, and I feel so grateful. Outside, in the nearby city, the sparrows by the bus station are fluffed up like little feathered pokéballs. They're very tame; people feed them crumbs and things, either by accident or on purpose.

Around here people say "on accident," to go with "on purpose." How about the other way? By accident or by purpose.

Safe from the cold are these loquat trees I grew from seeds that 88greenthumb sent me. I've never eaten the fruit of the loquat--have any of you?





Their leaves are generously large and a rich green color, and apparently you can make a tea out of them, but I won't, because my trees are up against enough difficulties, growing in pots and kept indoors for half the year, without having their leaves plucked.

In China, and then by extension in Japan, the tree is called pipa (biwa in Japanese), like the instrument--maybe because the fruit look like it?

a pipa (source)


loquat fruits (source)



Comments

( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
yamamanama
Dec. 15th, 2016 09:43 pm (UTC)
I've never eaten a loquat fruit.

I've heard a pipa, though.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:10 am (UTC)
Back when we lived in Japan as a family, wakanomori took lessons on a biwa. Very cool.
(Deleted comment)
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:11 am (UTC)
So many wonderful fruit trees in the world!
slobbit
Dec. 15th, 2016 10:23 pm (UTC)
Traditionally, loquat is one of the woods our practice naginata are supposed to be made from.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:11 am (UTC)
I wonder what its virtues as a wood are (or if it's just that it was common)
slobbit
Dec. 24th, 2016 11:26 am (UTC)
One of the reputed virtues is that it makes bruises that do not heal easily. I don't have any, so I can't make a weapon to check this with. Otherwise, a wood for weapons should have shock resilience, some resistance to excessive denting, and be moderate to somewhat dense. When it breaks, it should split apart without splintering and creating tiny projectiles. For most arts, Japanese white oak (shiro kashi, a live oak) fit the bill. Most likely, arts used what they could obtain easily in their natal area. Ryū lore has the foundation on the north coast, but in the late Edo it was centered in Wakayama and Saitama. I wonder if there is forestry information in English that describes the woods harvested in those areas (of course it exists in Japanese, and I'm sure Prof. Totman knows exactly where to find it!).
asakiyume
Dec. 27th, 2016 04:56 am (UTC)
I'm sure Prof. Totman knows exactly where to find it!

I'm sure you're right!

One of the reputed virtues is that it makes bruises that do not heal easily. --That is very ominous, and a cool detail... and something very amenable to being used in a story...
heliopausa
Dec. 15th, 2016 10:28 pm (UTC)
I grew up next to a loquat tree - that is, in a house next to house in whose yard was a loquat tree - one grown more as an ornamental than as a fruit tree, I guess, since as far as I know no-one but us kids ate the fruit. Summer days, neighbourhood of kids, plucking and eating at will the fruits warm from the tree, and admiring the big, glossy seeds. I always wanted to keep them, and make necklaces from them, but they always dried, and lost their gloss and the brown skin fell off.
More recently, a friend shared some loquat bounty from a tree-of-a-friend and I discovered that they are even better not sun-warm, but cold from the fridge (though still against the background of a warm summer's day).
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:17 am (UTC)
How lovely to have grown up with a tree nearby! When you say they're even better chilled, is it just the fact of enjoying them cool on a hot day, or is the flavor somehow changed/improved by being chilled?

Apparently they're really full of pectin, too, which makes it very easy to turn them into jams and jellies.

The fading of the shining happens with horse chestnuts (conkers) too--they are **so** richly red-brown, positively polished, and then they lose that shine. So they'd be perfect for fairy jewelry, I guess--beautiful until it fades.
heliopausa
Dec. 21st, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
I think it was probably that I enjoyed the cold sweetness of them - sunwarm has its own loveliness, but isn't as refreshing.
I've never come across them in jam, but I've taken careful note of the pectin tip for future reference. :)
sartorias
Dec. 16th, 2016 01:11 am (UTC)
I've noticed these prepositional shifts. Odd.

The plant looks so pretty in that striped light.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:19 am (UTC)
Yes, I liked how they looked striped--it's because the light was shining in through half-closed blinds!

It's funny to be able to witness language changing.
sartorias
Dec. 16th, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
"Boss of me" was one of the other ones I was thinking of.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 03:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah! That's one I used in my own childhood--it was the natural idiom for us, and yet it seems so weirdly stilted when you see it written out.
pameladean
Dec. 16th, 2016 03:33 am (UTC)
I've never eaten a loquat fruit, but those are very pretty leaves indeed.

You've given me an idea of how to convey a different dialect in a fantasy novel, swapping pronouns in common phrases like that.

P.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:21 am (UTC)
Yes, it would be a good way to show a difference in dialect!
nipernaadiagain
Dec. 16th, 2016 04:38 am (UTC)
As, thanks to trips to Vietnam, I have eaten things that I do not know names off, I had to look at the picture to be sure that, no, I have not eaten loquat.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:21 am (UTC)
So far only one person who's commented has tasted loquats! What a mysterious fruit.
khiemtran
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:36 am (UTC)
I've tried them, but I'm not really a fan. It makes me wonder if people ever grow tame loquat trees by (on) accident as well. For some reason "by purpose" sounds more logical to me than "on accident".
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
Is it that they don't have much flavor? As a kid, I used to gobble up mulberries. I found them very pleasant, but as I got older I realized that compared with other berries and fruits, they seemed a bit bland. Pleasant for a treat you got for free--certainly nothing *wrong* with them--but just not super exciting.

Then again, sometimes it's a fruit's texture that make people dislike it.

I agree with you about "by purpose." When you think about it, "on purpose" is an idiosyncratic phrase, which makes it all the more bewildering--or then again, maybe explains why??--people would follow its model in converting "by accident" to "on accident."
khiemtran
Dec. 16th, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
I remember them being pretty bland, but, having done some googling, it looks like that might vary a bit between varieties. I tend to be bit indifferent to a lot of different fruits - there's a fairly narrow range that I really love (which, now that I think about it, do tend towards strong flavours).
amaebi
Dec. 16th, 2016 12:13 pm (UTC)
I have had tinned loquats, though not recently. I liked them a lot. But maybe I wouldn't now - I feel unsure.
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 12:59 pm (UTC)
I wonder if I could find tinned loquats at an Asian market....
amaebi
Dec. 16th, 2016 01:54 pm (UTC)
I got them in an Asian grocery in Carbondale, Illinois.
amaebi
Dec. 16th, 2016 03:26 pm (UTC)
Those loquats look splendid-- congratulations!

How old are they?
asakiyume
Dec. 16th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think they're about three years old--three going on four.
xjenavivex
Dec. 16th, 2016 05:53 pm (UTC)

So are they mostly tropical in nature?

asakiyume
Dec. 17th, 2016 12:28 am (UTC)
Maybe subtropical? It grows in California. Wikipedia tells me Japan is the leading producer, followed by Israel and Brazil.
wakanomori
Dec. 16th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
According to Digital Daijisen's entry on the biwa/loquat tree, the wood is used for haircombs as well as for practice swords -- so it must be quite finegrained and hard?

They also give an example of a family crest (mon) using loquat leaves -- the pattern's called "three biwa leaves" 三つ枇杷の葉. Now I know what they look like, it's unmistakeable!
asakiyume
Dec. 17th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
Wow, it really is accurate!

sovay
Dec. 17th, 2016 09:11 pm (UTC)
I've never eaten the fruit of the loquat--have any of you?

I want to say yes, but I have no hard memory evidence—maybe I'm thinking of the longan, which is easy to buy around here. You can get them both fresh and canned, like lychee and rambutan.

The loquat trees are beautiful in the slatted light.
asakiyume
Dec. 18th, 2016 07:08 pm (UTC)
I want to try rambutan, canned will do. And I definitely want to try loquat, one way or another.
sovay
Dec. 19th, 2016 06:22 am (UTC)
I want to try rambutan, canned will do.

They sell them at Market Basket!
asakiyume
Dec. 19th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
I still have my Market Basket discount card. Next time I'm in Somerville!
pdlloyd
Dec. 17th, 2016 10:21 pm (UTC)
I say "by accident" and "on purpose." My knee jerk reaction is that the phrasing suggests that accidents simply happen, not having been deliberately caused, while deliberate intent is required to make something purposeful occur. But, I'm not at all certain, as I think about it, that this interpretation has anything at all to do with the pronouns involved, but is, instead, a result of mere long-term association.

I think I've tried a loquat, but I can't be sure. We often try interesting fruit, both fresh and canned, from international markets, and we don't always know the English name for what we try.
asakiyume
Dec. 18th, 2016 07:09 pm (UTC)
Your parsing of "by accident" and "on purpose" makes good sense to me.

And yes, you may have eaten loquats under another name!
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )

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