Monday, November 15, 2010
I really don't know why I'm going through a pomegranate phase (I am ogling my favorite 'granate picture of the year - not this one - and wondering whether it will become a Christmas card). They are, indubitably, better fruits to look at and photograph and draw than they are to eat, although I do remember, sometime in the mid 1960s, a couple of these exotic beasts turning up and being taught by my mother how to eat the little seeds, one by one, impaled on a pin. They are, of course, on my list of Things I Want to Grow in California - up there with avocados and limes.
Pomegranates come originally from the Himalayas (so do lots of fruits - I caught a fascinating program about rare and heirloom apples on NPR at lunchtime today, although I couldn't quite work it in to today's Memory class - probably just as well, since it ranged from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" to the big Newark sweatshop fire of 1910 to Simon Ortiz's poetry as it was ) - and Armenia and Persia and Azerbaijan. Wikipedia claims that Granada, in Spain, was even named after it - can that really be the case? Certainly, a pomegranate is the city's heraldic emblem, but in fact the name seems to derive from Gharnáta (Arabic: غَرْنَاطَة) (but that, in turn, means what? I am caught in a Google labyrinth, and will disentangle myself). Ayurvedic medicine claims so many uses for the fruit that perhaps I should start pressing and guzzling the remaining specimens in the fruit bowl. I've always thought of its mythology just in Greek terms, as a rather sinister fruit of the underworld, but its symbolic resonances go on and on. The Koran has it growing in paradise; in many countries it (understandably, given all those little seeds) is an image of fertility. So ... any depiction of it is going to be completely overdetermined - a pomegranate is never just a pomegranate - but it's a very seductive natural design.