Flitter, flatter, something falls through the branches and hits the ground below -- thump. A few leaves follow the fallen fruit’s path spinning down to earth. From out of windows sets of eyes and ears peer out, searching. Unexpectedly from one of the doorways, a little girl darts toward the tree. Her mother screams and runs after her calling for her to come back. A teenager sees the fruit and dives for it too. He reaches it before the girl and snatches it up. The girl shrieks as the boy runs off down the path. Jealous tears of frustration streak down the girl’s face, she struggles against her mother as she is carried away from the mango tree.
In Jamaica, mango season begins during the summer months, but in April on the tree right outside the Harmony House, the fruit is ripening nicely. Technically the tree stands on the path between the house and our community of neighbors which makes it open for anyone to pick. Though there are many fruit on the tree, they are hard to get.
Mangoes are said to be one of the sweetest and most delicious fruits of the Caribbean. I agree. When you take a bite of a fresh yellow mango (after peeling the skin off of course) it is as if you are taking a bite of heaven. In between slurps, my dad says they remind him of peaches. They are very sought after and you have to know how to get them.
A fully ripe mango, Mangifera indica, is high in Vitamin A (beta-carotene), which is a cancer-fighting agent, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, and B2, niacin, potassium, iron and fiber. Green mangoes have a higher proportion of Vitamin C, but may irritate your mouth, as testified by my friend Junior. Mangoes are good for the kidneys, digestive system of the body and the skin. They relieve clogged skin pores, reduces cysts, excess body heat and fever. Even the mango skin is great for you, just blend it up in a smoothie.
Every morning I walk down into the garden to get a few papayas for breakfast. I walk right past the tree, since I wake up earlier than most, I can usually beat the rug rats to the ones that fall overnight. If they fall during the day, the situation I described above is bound to occur.
Another technique to secure the fruit is by climbing the tree with a big stick (which is pretty hard) and knocking down the ripe ones. Brain (our neighbor), Ashton and I tried this with mixed results. Brain climbed the tree and Ashton and I waited below ready to catch the falling fruit. As soon as they started dropping people poured out of the surrounding houses. Brain jumped from down from the tree, grabbed three mangos and took off up the path. Ashton did the same leaving me to be attacked by the bombardment of requests for the mangos in my hands. I, unable to refuse, handed out what I had then dashed after Brain and Ashton with only one mango remaining.
An additional way to attain mangos is to throw rocks and try to knock down a ripe one. My aim is not good enough to hit my intended target, so I’d probably knock the whole tree down before hit the mango I wanted.
Although last week I witnessed Donavan (one of the Harmony House staff members) walk down to the mango tree and picking up a few rocks. He threw them up into the branches and must have had an amazing aim or just really lucky because he accumulated a large group of ripe ones. When he was finished he picked them up, stuffed six in his pocket and with two in each hand walked up the path munching happily.
I have diagnosed myself with OMD (obsessive mango disorder) and am currently addicted. My family and I hired one of our friends, Mutta to pick some; he arrived this morning with 50 mangos.
It will be hard to leave this delicious fruit, but when we finally get back to Pennsylvania, it will be the start of blueberry, apples, pears, grapes and raspberries season. Maybe I can satisfy my mango cravings.