Monday, March 28, 2016

Living Among the Flowers

When living on an island as beautiful as Samoa, we forget that we are living among what we in Utah and the west would consider houseplant flowers.  They don't grow in small little pots like we would use, but they blossom into large plants for everyone to see and enjoy as we walk about.

Look at the size of these blossoms that Sister Gillette and I are holding.  Then, you decorate your clothing with flowers.  I had this pulatasi made and the flower design is sewn onto the material.

Everyday, we pass a fale or home where someone has just planted a branch of a plant, a leaf cutting from a flower and banana-papaya-breadfruit-coconut-avocado from trees that absolutely surround them on all sides.  The home may be humble, but the surroundings are anything but!

It's difficult to describe all of these wonders and beauties, so we have to do it through pictures.

Pictures of homes surrounded by everything that is colorful, edible, and practical.  At one time, the large banana and other tree leaves were used for the roof of your home.

When you needs some decoration for a holiday, you pull down coconut fronds and weave them around pillars and even your gasoline pumps.  At weddings and funerals, coconut fronds are used for the majority of decoration.  Weaving these fronds not only for decoration but into baskets and food dishes.

Mats and other foliage are used for your horse's saddle.

There is not much that really goes to waste here, we drink the coconut juice, we eat the bananas, the leaves are used to cover the coals of the food fires (ovens or umu as they call it), the flowers are used to decorate graves and chapels and yards.  Enjoy our trip among the flowers and trees as we show you a little of the beauty of Samoa.

 Where else could you find a tree that spreads so fully and carries such beautiful pink flowers?

 The old coconut tree stumps are used as flower pots to decorate yards built on lava rock.  Some are carved in Samoan designs.  These would be equivalent to our decorative yard pots, but there is no soil used.  The leafy houseplant is just placed into the coconut pot and it magically grows.
 Almost every yard is hedged about with variegated leaf plants.  Miles of these hedges are planted to make the surroundings so much more beautiful for everyone.

 Adam and Eve had nothing on us.  These are fully cultivated green plants and hedges.

When you plant a stick into the ground and use it for a fence, it begins to grow into a tree.

When you dry the large leaves of a certain plant, not sure I know what it is, and then cut it into strips and make your sleeping mats, funeral mats, wedding mats and other household mats. We see leaves drying in yards all of the time.
 After the harvest of the coconuts, you simply bundle the husks together and use them to add to your umu fire or as an edge around a garden plot.  You have to have some mighty strong shoulders to carry a load like this.

 The men and boys do the cooking in the umu.  You start with the large wood at the bottom and layer food and large leaves until you get a nice 'pressure cooker'.
 I hope our grandchildren look at this picture and see that bananas grow upside down and are the branches of the banana tree.  Each banana tree produces one pod of bananas and then it is cut down and the root shots up next to it for the next tree and the next bunch of bananas.
 Breadfruit is always in season.  They pick the larger ones, put the whole fruit into a fire and cook it.  Then they peel off the burnt outer layer and a nice smokey flavor permeates the fruit.  The texture is like a potato; the flavor like the onions and garlic you cook it with.

 Coconuts are abundant.  Just today we saw a young man up in the top of the tree throwing the coconuts to the ground.  They take the large outer husk off and you are left with a nice young coconut that you drink the liquid.  Eat your hearts out as you buy your expensive bottle of coconut juice; we buy one every afternoon for 2 tala or about .80 cents.  They are fresh and not processed.  Don't know what we will do when we get home.

Below is the taro plant, the main dietary staple of Samoan people.  It's as tasteless as a piece of cardboard.  However, when you put enough coconut cream with it and onion, it is edible; but only in small amounts.  If you want a daily allotment of starch, just eat a 2 inch by 2 inch piece of taro. 

In the evening, the fronds, leaves and sun highlight the water and frame the sunset.  What a beautiful paradise.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of our days in Panama when everything was growing... And I believe that the banana is growing from a plant not a tree...
    We pray for you every day.
    Love Tony- Sue and Luke.