Part I: Grove
A 7:30 a.m. call time is exactly my idea of greeting Saturday, but so it began this morning in my driveway as I pulled out to follow Roland Samimy down the Florida Turnpike to his family’s Homestead lychee grove.
No more than 30 minutes later, passing through wet air thick with haze from wildfires to the west, we had reached our destination. Branches heavy with fruit tickled my car’s roof and doors like the flaps in a carwash as we wove in and out of rows of red-speckled trees. Mauritius then Brewster. Mauritius then Brewster.
The chorus of the harvest could be heard in the distance. A tractor’s hum, the rustle of branches, men’s voices. There was hard work to be done this morning, while the sun was still low. I took in the scene as Roland’s wife Ellen and son Perry meticulously surveyed the trees, finding the right places from which to clip panicles with the appropriate proportion of ripe lychees– a necessary pruning that helps the trees produce more fruit the following season.