The Porridge Tree
Tracey lifted the saucepan from the hob and ladled a generous portion into Bobby’s plate.
“Oh Mum, not porridge again,” said Bobby, wrinkling his freckled nose.
Tracey patted him on the shoulder. “Just let it cool a bit and I’ll pour some milk over it. I’ll get some honey for you. You’d like that.”
The boy stared morosely at the plate. “Haven’t we got any Coco Pops, Mum?”
“No. You had the last of them yesterday.”
Tracey sat down opposite her son. “Bobby, do you know how difficult it is to harvest your porridge?”
“What do you mean, Mum?”
“Well, first they have to plant the porridge trees as little saplings, baby trees, then they have to be protected.”
“Why? I’ve never heard of porridge trees.”
“Well, porridge trees are very delicate and mustn’t get too cold, or too hot for that matter, or they will wither and die.”
“Then, when they have grown into bigger saplings they have to be protected against creatures like rabbits or deer, who love the bark.”
Bobby looked at his mother. “Bark? Do porridge trees bark?”
“No, silly, it’s what goes round the trunk of the saplings. If it gets eaten the tree would die.”
“Oh, I see.”
Tracey smiled. “Then, when the tree is bigger it bears blossoms, then the porridge fruit appears and the grower has to put cages round them to protect the fruit from birds who love their porridge. It makes them strong and lets them fly faster, because it’s so good for them.”
Tracey leaned forward across the table. “Then we get to the hard job of harvesting.”
“Yes, because the tree is very thorny, and the fruit pickers have to be very careful not to get caught up in the thorns. Then the fruit goes to the factory to be turned into what lucky boys get to eat for their breakfast.” She poured a large spoonful of honey over Bobby’s porridge, stirred it in and followed it with a generous portion of milk.
Bobby looked up. “Mum?”
“I’d much rather have some Coco Pops.”