Articles written by Darryl McCullough (unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Past Is Present

“The past is not dead. It's not even past.”
---William Faulkner

I'm a member of four fruit tree clubs, and each has a different feel. With the possible exception of the Tampa Bay Rare Fruit Council, which I rarely attend due to the long trip required, it is the MRFC where I sense the greatest presence of history.

When I joined almost five years ago, there were many members who dated from the club's founding in the mid-80's, or joined in the early years. There are still quite a few, and I've really enjoyed knowing and learning from them. But there's also a perceptible presence of members who did much, but departed, one way or another, before my arrival.

I did come to know Pete Ray for the just last year or so of his life. Perhaps hoping that my loves for language and fruit trees could balance out my beginner's ignorance, he encouraged me to take on the blogger role. But I never met L. G. Allen.

Through fortunate circumstances, I recently felt L. G.'s presence.

Master frutier Wayne Clifton has a fine lychee variety called Sweet Song. As Larry Schokman says, every tree should have a story, and the Sweet Song has a good one. Long-time MRFC members know that L. G. was quite an expert on lychees, among many other subjects, and quite a traveler. During an extended sojourn to China, he ran across some wonderful lychee fruit, and managed to save and bring back some of its seeds. From them, he grew a seedling that took a couple of decades to fruit. I've not yet tasted it, but word is that it was worth the long wait.

L. G. named the new variety Sweet Song, after a Chinese lady friend he had spent time with during his journey.

Wayne propagated L. G.'s tree in the 1990's. The copy grew into this beautiful tree at Wayne's house, but not until now did he produce more Sweet Songs from it. I obtained three of the first airlayers. They are growing happily, and already have names--- Sweet Sister #1, #2, and #3.

I love the name Sweet Song and its story, so when I recently decided to form an LLC for selling some of my fresh tropical fruit, the name SweetSong Groves was as irresistible as, perhaps, its original inspiration.

When L. G. passed away, his children wrote beautiful tributes to him. Wayne has copies that he generously shared with me, and next week we'll see a bit about L. G.'s interesting life.

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