Pod People 28 January 2011

Last week I went out to take my monthly photo of our small small plantain plantation. Since my birthday I have take a photo on the 19 of each month, to show the progress of the plantation that the Headmaster and the Form 3 students planted last fall.

The farm is on a hill near our bungalow. The Form 3 students  went out into the forest to gather about 15 young trees to add to the half dozen older trees that are around our bungalow.

On the 19 of January I went out as usual to take photos of the plantation.

 

When I walked passed an older tree a flash of brown caught my eye. I looked up and saw a brown pod. Those of you who know about my love of Sci Fi will understand this next thought, the rest of you please really I am not crazy. I thought that the Pod people had invaded. Even as I was have my first life long dream fulfilled of living in another country for a time, maybe my second one of an encounter with aliens would be fulfilled in these pods. Then I came to my senses and looked it over well. It was pod shaped about as long as my forearm and covered in brown leaves. There were long vertical ridges on the leaves and at the end point of the pod a smooth round cap.

During the next day I pondered about the pod. Was it a flower? Would there be a large beautiful showy bloom in a few weeks? Did it contain seeds? Was it a pod child? When I walked by the tree three leaves had fallen off the pod. They did have ridges on the outside and were rough to the touch but the inside was red, smooth and shiny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since Headmaster was sitting out on our porch I walked over to him and asked him about the pods. He said “For five years now these pods have come on the plantain trees in late December or early January. The following April the pop open with fully formed 2 year olds. They can speak perfect Twi, read Twi and English, walk as good as you or me and they can do each dance from every tribe in Ghana. They look and act just like normal Ghanaian children except that on the 19th of each month they gather in the forest around the tallest plantain tree, hold hands and go into a trance.”

Ok, he did not say that at all. But wouldn’t it be great if he did? Since this is not fiction but truth here is what he really said.

“They are the plantains. Look into the trees there between our house and the village. See the plantains hanging from that tree there?” For your information plantains in the tree look like a big bunch of bananas drooping down from a curved stalk from the tree. “Look at the end of the bunch of plantains” he continued “see the brown leaves hanging off the end? That is the pod. When all the leaves of the pod fall off then the plantain is ready to harvest.”

Upon further questioning I learned that plantains start small, about the size of a finger,and as they get larger the push the pod apart. The stem they hang off of comes from the top of the tree directly out of the center of the trunk.

My plan was to photograph the changes in this pod since it was so handy to my house but alas last night a severe tropical thunderstorm blew down the tree. From looking at the bottom of the tree I decided that they don’t have a very deep root system, the roots look short and shallow. So it’s back to the forest to find a suitable tree with a pod.

-vc

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