Chekhov's Madame Ranevskaya had her cherry orchard. Our village has its starfruit orchard, located on the eastern frontier, between the last houses and the steep base of a hill. Like the Ranevskayas, the owners of this last undeveloped fruit farm in the valley left it behind long ago. As with all the other farm plots in the village--including the former lychee and longan orchard, part of which survives in our garden--it was likely abandoned thirty years ago.
The trees remain, dropping hundreds of fruit throughout the fall and winter, left to sit on the ground and rot. What an appalling waste, you think. Until you take one home, cut a slice and pop it into your mouth. Ptui! It's more sour than a cross between a lemon and a rotten chili pepper. That's what happens when no one cares for the trees. Some ambitious pruning, fertilizing and TLC would probably bring these trees back to life, producing sweet, refreshing, juicy bright yellow fruits. They're so popular during the mid-Autumn Moon Festival that many people even carry around traditional lanterns shaped like starfruit.
The current owners, wherever they might be, probably think that resuscitating these graceful, elegant trees and harvesting their cartoon-like fruit doesn't offer enough return on investment. They're most likely holding out until this land is zoned for development, so they can chop everything down and pocket some easy money. That's how The Cherry Orchard ends. I hope that the starfruit orchard manages to dodge that fate for another thirty years.