Cyrus Gordon is a man who doesn't eat fruit. Even more incredibly, he grows lots of it! "I'm a steak and potatoes guy. If I could grow them, I would," he says. Throughout my 90-minute interview with him today, the tape loop in my mind kept wondering, "Who doesn't love fresh fruit?"
I need to get over it, because Cyrus is for real. He grows for his kids, grandkids, wife and mother. These are some of his seven varieties of grapes - he's not fussy about names, so I don't know the variety. He also has two plum trees, two peach, two Bing cherry, lots of banana trees (but no bananas - they need a longer growing season), five kinds of blueberries, five kinds of blackberries, raspberries, kiwis, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, kumquats, limes, lemons, two tangelo trees and some mandarins. And some beautiful 'Sugar Baby' watermelons, those small, round ones that are so verrrry sweet.
All this in Ventnor, where the neighbors have gardeners and lots of hydrangeas. Cyrus's garden really stands out, as you can imagine. His home is on one lot, the garden on a second, one block from the beach. His family's lived in this house since 1900; he and his wife, only the last 11.
He did, however, spend some formative years in Oahu, where absolutely everything grew like a dream. "I'd throw papaya seeds out in the compost and a tree would grow," he says. Even then, apparently, fruit was - oh, just say it - the apple of his eye.