pruning, ploughing and punning

plum blossom close up

For the last week, the skies have been almost solid grey and the drizzle has only been interrupted by intermittend torrential rain and the occasional thunder storm. This has all come while the plum trees have been in full bloom, so I imagine we may not get much fruit this year as there have been few insects around to pollinate.

There was a slight break in the clouds a few days ago, though, and I did manage to get a walk. One neighbour was preparing the ground ready for planting, while others were still burning the last of the prunings – unless there are exceptional weather conditions, the ‘licence to burn’ is vald until the end of March.

Some had obviously decided not to prune this year, and this field of ‘un-pruned plums’ caught my attention:

unpruned  plum trees in blossom
¿podó lo que pudo?

Both the verbs ‘to prune’ and ‘to plough’ offer the chance of linguistic play in Spanish. Podar because it is so like poder and arar because it allows such phrases as “aré lo que pude” which sounds as if it’s a mix up of future (haré – I will do) and past (lo que pude – what I could).

There are a number of these set puns in Spanish that everyone seems to know. There’s the one about the two old people at the beach ( we know they’re old as the first uses the Usted form of the verb to address the second):

“¿No nada nada?”
“No traje traje”

(The exchange “Aren’t you swimming?” / “I didn’t bring my costume.” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

Prunes (as in dried plums) are pasas. Technically they’re pasas de ciruela rather than pasas de corinto (sultanas) or pasas moscatel (raisins), but “¿Me pasas las pasas?” would be standard correct Spanish.

Now, though, I’m trying hard to work out how to combine the verb pasar(se) and the verb ‘to prune’ in a bilingual pun. Something along the lines of “Juan se pasa when he prunes”, perhaps.


Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

2 thoughts on “pruning, ploughing and punning”

  1. I’d be more inclined to make something out of the picture. Especially on St. Patrick’s Day, it looks like the plum trees have been buried upside down to not stop the plums getting sunburnt.


    1. I hadn’t even noticed it was St Patrick’s; here it’s just as much the feast of St Joseph of Arimathea and sundry others.

      Looking at the photo again, the trees remind me of Edward Scissorhands, and in a few days’ time all the petals will fall like the snow flakes in the film.


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