For weeks I've walked past a house in Melbourne with a banana plant in the front yard. Not many people grow them here, because it's thought the climate is too cold. However, I had heard that's not true, so it didn't seem so very out of the ordinary.
But this plant had fruit on it. And that's rare so far south.
So today, when I noticed the bunch had disappeared, I just had to open the front gate, walk up the path and knock on the door to ask whether the fruit had ripened.
And it had! I wouldn't have thought the tail-end of a cold winter was the time to harvest a tropical fruit.
Not only did the lady who came to the door answer my question, but she gave me a banana to take home.
As you can see, it was only about nine centimetres (3 1/2 inches) long. But it was delicious, sweeter than the bananas we buy from the shop.
My dog, Penny loves bananas, but she didn't get any of this precious one.
We sometimes like to joke that Penny goes bananas for bananas. I wondered where the expression comes from. The origin of the phrase is unclear. Some say that it relates to the old expression to go ape, because of the connection with apes eating bananas. There's a theory that it might be connected to the myth that eating banana skins can give a hallucinogenic experience.
World Wide Words says the phrase to go bananas dates only from the 1960s.
What of to go bananas? It burst upon the world in the 1960s and became a fashionable, not to say faddish, term in the 1970s. Its heyday is over, perhaps thankfully so. But nobody seems to have any very clear idea where it came from. Was the idea of something bent at the root of it, so that a person was being driven mentally out of shape? Or was there a mental image of an over-excited ape clamouring for his daily feast? Or was it a more subtle image connected with the older phrase to go ape or evento go nuts? You can go crazy thinking about this stuff.
By the way, in researching this topic, I've been reassured that bananas are okay for dogs to eat. (There's a good photo of a banana plant at the ASPCA site.)