Sharing Bananas with an Old-New Friend

When I attended my high school reunion back in October, I was pleased to see lots of old friends. My high school in this small, rural Massachusetts community, was not large … just over a 100 kids in my graduating class. Everyone knew everyone … kind of. You know how teenagers are … you tend to stay within your own circle of friends and it's hard to break out. I served on this year’s reunion committee and got to renew the acquaintance of many old, er... I mean former classmates, several of whom I 'knew' in passing, but didn’t really ever know.

While having a nightcap at the end of the reunion evening, I related a cruising story to our little group about an experience David and I had had while visiting a small village in Vanuatu. The story goes like this …

 One banana, two bananas, three bananas ... MORE!

One banana, two bananas, three bananas ... MORE!

We were anchored off the small village of Malekula and several local men had paddled out in their dugouts to welcome us to the village and invite us ashore. One man brought us a bunch of bananas as a welcome gift. Once ashore, David’s talents were in high demand since there were several non-functioning generators and many more solar panels that were in need of repair. David spent a day making repairs and we were rewarded the next morning with fresh veggies from the community garden and more bananas … a huge hand of bananas actually … many more than we could possibly eat. N.B. a ‘bunch’ of bananas is what you buy in the supermarket; a ‘hand’ is a bunch of bunches, i.e. a lot of bananas. I thought I’d be clever and decided to use the quickly ripening bananas to make banana bread the next day. The islanders use 'umus', underground earthen ovens, for baking purposes. They had never sampled banana bread before and rarely had sweets. I baked several loaves to share and everyone seemed to enjoy them.

 One of many hands of bananas we received as gifts from the islanders. This was a small one!

One of many hands of bananas we received as gifts from the islanders. This was a small one!

Bright and early the next morning, a fellow in a dugout delivered another hand of bananas. Then another dugout arrived and another … all with bananas. It seemed the banana bread was quite a hit, but we were heading out that very morning … with lots and lots of bananas aboard. We anchored at another island that evening and tried to give away some of our booty, but no luck … everyone was already banana-ed out. The bananas swung from the boom crutch, attracting all manner of bees and insects. They dropped intermittently into the cockpit with a definite thud as they ripened and turned black. In the end, unable to eat or face another banana, we commended the remaining bananas to Neptune. To this day, we rarely eat them … a psychological allergy.

Fast forward to this past weekend … we were invited to lunch with Anne Marie and her husband, Ron, at their home in Worcester. They had joined us for nightcaps after the reunion and we'd stayed connected on Facebook. I knew Anne Marie in high school, but I didn’t ‘know’ her. I remembered she was shy, but not much else. She’s an artist; she's creative; she owns and operates a child care center and has for years. She’s a good cook. She taught gymnastics. She loves the color yellow. She likes white zinfandel. She's avid about ancestry research and, in fact, has offered to do some for our family. There was no dearth of conversation as we moved from one subject to another and another with ease, catching up on the past 50 years and learning about each other for the first time. After a wonderful lunch and with a hard-to-hide Cheshire-cat grin, Anne Marie offered dessert …

 Anne Marie & Marcie indulging in banana-like cookies. 

Anne Marie & Marcie indulging in banana-like cookies. 

I thought as we walked down her front walk and got back into Blue to head home that I’d missed out on having a fine friend all these years … but I’ve got one now. I think this might be the case with many people we’ve met and not known throughout the years. Carpe diem and thanks, Anne Marie.