“The Noble Order of the Pomegranate”

12 Oct

Pomegranates have always been special to me. They were rare and coveted when I was a child. A mysterious old man called The Pomegranate Man gave them out in my neighborhood for trick-or-treating–he was very popular on Halloween.

Today, I have all I need, with two big and fruitful pomegranate trees in my back yard. October’s the month they get ripe in California–right around Halloween (my favorite holiday of the year.)

In fact, a short story devoted to pomegranate farming in William Soroyan’s famous book, My Name is Aram, inspired me to write my second book, Foleytown. The story in Soroyan’s book is about a crazy old uncle of his who tried to grow pomegranates in the SoCal desert, and of course, the farm failed. I read it and thought, “wow, that sounds like something a member of my own family would do!” And the idea for Foleytown–a collection of comic short stories inspired by my family–was born.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in Foleytown called “The Noble Order of the Pomegranate.” The pomegranate still life at the bottom of the page is mine too, painted from the pomegranates grown in my backyard, which is for sale at my Etsy store.

Now, it’s a point of fact that secretaries at the Air Base [where my father worked] were always giving my dad bags of things to take home with him; they felt sorry for him because they knew he had so many children to support. This particular secretary lived on a small farm outside of a town called Yorba Linda, and she had a few large trees that produced pomegranates that were almost—but not quite—as good as The Pomegranate Man’s.

My brother Bobby, my three sisters and I sorted through the gunny sack of pomegranates from the Air Base secretary eagerly. We ate pomegranates every day for more than a week, and yet there was still a big pile of them left in the sack.

“Pomegranates just aren’t fun anymore,” I complained, sitting on the top step of our front porch with Elaine, dejectedly picking out seeds from a pomegranate shell in a dish, and popping them slowing into my mouth. “They’re not special anymore when you have so many of them.”

“I don’t even like them so much now either,” Elaine replied. “They’re kind of like eating cake frosting straight from the bowl.”

“And we always thought The Pomegranate Man was being so generous in giving away all his pomegranates on Halloween,” I added. “Now we know the real truth; he was just sick of them all along, and Halloween’s just an excuse to get rid of them.”

“There’s nothing you can really do with them but eat the seeds,” Elaine pointed out, grabbing a large, juicy-looking seed from my dish. “If they were apples or something, we could get Mama to make a pie out of them, but who has ever heard of a pie made from pomegranates?”

I gagged at the thought of it; pomegranate pie. Yuck.

But then Elaine made an important discovery about pomegranate seeds.

“Look Lizzie, you can squirt them!” She squeezed her seed between her right thumb and forefinger, and a large jet of crimson juice sprayed out of it. “You can do something else with them.”

I tried it myself; it worked. Soon Elaine and I were practicing with the seeds, trying to figure out the best way to squeeze them in order to produce the longest and most voluminous squirts.

At that point, our big brother Bobby came home from shooting basketballs at the local schoolyard, and we showed him how to make the pomegranate seeds squirt, too.

He was greatly impressed.

“This is almost better than a squirt gun,” he said. “Hey, I know—what do you usually do when you have a bunch of kids and squirt guns?”

Elaine and I looked at each other, and we reached the identical conclusion at the same exact time.

“WAR!” we shouted in delighted, near-unison. “You have a WAR!”

# # #

Original Watercolor Pomegranate, Still Life, Red and Tasty Art, Kitchen Art, Kitchen Decor, Pomegranates

Foleytown, “The Noble Order of the Pomegranate”, Copyright 2012, by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

“Still Life With Pomegranates, 2012,” Copyright, 2012, by S. K Cole. All rights reserved.

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