The robusta plant has long leaves, it takes care of itself, and fetches a lower price, and it lives long. The arabica has smaller leaves, it demands to be fussed after, and commands a higher price. We were at an arabica plantation Sunday yesterday.
The pepper vines had died of wilt, their leaves and stems had dried up. The pods, small and tight, were green but useless. There were traces of vanilla, which last year the planter had grown all over, including on his terrace. But the price for vanilla has collapsed.
We were hosted by the planter, a jolly type, lean and hard and sunburnt. He grows mostly arabica, whose lower branches are meshed together across entire patches. So the ground below them is in darkness, and is inhospitable for weeds. Formations of plants like that is proof of vintage of the estate.
The plantation has too many silver oaks throwing an excess of shade on the coffee, and the planter has planned to cut down five-hundred heaven-bound flora. Their absence may not be noticed among the tree-rich slopes on his estate that plunge to water tanks below, kept full by heavy Malnad rain and the bonus of underground springs.
I said out loud that I'd build a study by the tank if I owned a plantation, but the planter didn't quite approve. "Snakes," he said. In the manner in which he said it, there appeared to be other threats as well that he wouldn't speak of.
The plantation looks out at layers and layers of hills, low ridges in front, and tall hills back of them that are blue, hazy, and grazed by clouds on top. The place was continually washed by fresh air which lightened our spirits, and today on Monday, back at work in Bangalore, we feel warm and cheered, happy to have gone there, and glad to be back here.
"I'll for sure buy a plantation," I'm thinking.