Thursday, 20 December 2007

In praise of a Mango Tree

Our garden is blessed by an old mango tree that sits by the edge of the property, and overhangs the bedroom roof. This tree provides us with many things. A dramatic backdrop to the garden, dappled shade, a trellis for a vine to ascend and mingle its ineffably blue violet flowers with the dark greens and reds of the mango leaves, and cover for the succession of birds that rest here as the day progresses: ponderous pigeons in the cool of the night and early morning, vibrant yellow families of orioles in the afternoon, whispering finches as the light fades. But, greatest of all, the tree produces mangoes.

Our mangoes are in season during the late summer. When we arrive here, in November, they are usually finished, the only reminder being the desiccated husks of dropped fruit on the roof. This year, there were 5 or 6 magnificent fruits still on the tree, which our resourceful gardener retrieved. We waited expectantly for them to ripen, and prepared to eat one.

Eating ripe mangoes often evokes images of sensuality and eroticism. Maybe it’s due to their juiciness, the softness of the flesh. Bite into one, close your eyes, and you can be transported to a naked picnic under the stars on a rooftop, kissing the drips off each other’s cooling flesh, or languorously wading waist deep in the warm sea, dipping the mango in the water and sharing the confusion of salty sweetness.

The taste of this home-grown mango was like no other experienced before. It was the essence of mango, The Alpha and Omega of Mango. It exploded on the tongue, overwhelming in its impact, drowning out any indirect musings on sensuality in its immediacy. Like a fine wine, I savored the change in flavor as I moved it around my mouth, the subtle aftertaste.

We hoarded the others, sharing only with special guests, and when the stash was exhausted, moved on to other commercial products. They were serviceable, still delicious, but a pale imitation of the fruit of our special tree. Forget the “100 Mile Diet”, I believe in the “100 Meter Mango Diet” and have found a good reason why you might want to stay here in the summer.

Comox, our other home, unfortunately does not grow Mangoes. It does have its signature fruit, namely the Blackberry. Blackberries are indeed scrumptious, but, perhaps due to their puritanical English origins, they don’t evoke in me any images of sensuality or eroticism.

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