Stormy Nights And Tender Mangoes

“…the mango trees have flowered/these are times of togetherness/and my beloved is not very far…”

The king of fruits is in full bloom now. The picture above was taken in a neighbour’s garden in early February. And the lines from the Internet sums up the different emotions from poets all across the subcontinent.

“The koel calls in the mango grove, her notes full of joy.”

I grew up in a small town where the changes of the seasons were felt and seen in a garden with an abundance of plants. And my attachment to herbs, blooms and trees came initially from the fruit trees that dotted our garden. I still remember the plum and peach blossoms around this time of the year. We would look out of the kitchen window mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the blossoms. By late February the wind would start to blow and this would go on till the end of March or early April. That was also the season of the mango flowers and then the tiny fruit.

I’d like to share some of the memories I’d jotted down during one such season years ago.

The storm finally came a stormin’. With rain that lashed every which way, lightning that streaked across the sky, and thunder that sent the neighbour’s chicken scurrying for cover. So we’re greeted by change again, of seasons…the aftermath of cold spells and long chilly nights, and a prelude to the heat of summer. As a child I’d always loved storms. The feel of it when it brewed, the air pregnant with expectation, of people hurrying. “…before we get caught in the storm, you know…”. And the frantic twitter of birds as they called it a day and headed home to roost. Then the first flash of lightning against a surreal skyscape…the wind doing a star turn like some wild opera of the night complete with its arias and choruses. It’d start from the ranges with a low moan and descend on the town screeching and howling in its crescendo passage.

“It was a dark and stormy night.” The possibility of a dozen things happening hung in those words. And stormy nights were surely such nights, of impending danger, of something, probably a ghost lurking in some dark corner ready to pounce upon an unsuspecting soul! There was the fear of the roof being blown away and the rattling of the window-panes was enough to keep you awake. No strait-laced stuff, this. It rained, it poured, it came down in massive torrents and the roar of the rain-created rivulets flowed in great big gushes–an endless flow through the night cascading into the lake at the bottom of the hill.As the wind gradually died down, sleep took over with the symphony of the rain still playing outside.

The morning after, awash, every bark looked darker, every leaf glossier, and the beautiful hills, a resplendent green. Even the sky would wear the most deceptive shade of blue. We would be out with a spring in our step but our hearts would almost stop at the most unforgettable sight was the ground beneath our mango tree…a carpet of the most heart-rending green! Tiny little mangoes so cruelly severed off the tree! How many storms the tree must’ve weathered! And survived! I suppose every plant teaches us that. The strength to endure; in seeds which lie buried in the soil to be woken in its own time to sprout leaves…In tendrils that shoot up and cling tenaciously as it goes on the process of living.

Thus the storms would pass paving the way to brew another tale, until you no longer felt the whisper of the wind. And pickling days would arrive. By the end of May or early June, my mother’s huge jars would be filled with mouth-watering pickle. No meal would be complete without these. The very thought transports me to my mother’s kitchen and the aroma of tender mango pickle fills my being. My siblings and I…we all have families of our own now. But every summer brings my mother’s pickle. A summer devoid of the same would be unlike a summer we have never known. And knowing about storms and survival, and about life from a sturdy mango tree in my parents’ garden makes the gift of a jar of tender mango pickle all the more endearing.

Photo of the tiny mangoes taken last March in my parent’s garden. The pickling days were so much a part of the season. But all that stopped with my father’s illness. From an avid gardener,who generously gave away garden produce to half the town, my mom has now been a care-giver for the last fourteen years. All garden-related things are like pages from the distant past. But when I visit my parents I always make it a point to be with the trees that she had planted. Her grandchildren can relish the same fruits that we, her children, did. Recently I took these pictures when I was there in late January.

The jackfruit tree is heavy with fruit.

The Pomelo/Citrus maxima is the largest citrus fruit in the world.A native of South-east Asia, it is also known as shaddock. Β It is named so after an English sea captain who introduced the seed to the West Indies in the 17th century from the Malay archipelago.

Remains of the day—from the daily squirrels’ picnic.

And I couldn’t resist posting the picture of Passion fruit on the vine. But this was taken last year in April. Another yearly feature. I know this was supposed to be about mangoes only but ………I know garden bloggers will surely understand!

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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31 Responses to Stormy Nights And Tender Mangoes

  1. islandgal246 says:

    Such bounty from your garden with your descriptive narrative on mango season long ago also reminds me that heavy rain is bad for young mangoes. Many will not make it to the table or the pickles. Well enjoy the fruit of the gods Kanak. Hail the mango!

  2. Diana says:

    Kanak, beautifully written prose!!! I hung on words of “rain-created rivulets flowed” and felt your angst at what had been destroyed and your gratefulness and faith in strength being restored. Thank you for allowing us to share in this. Diana

  3. Mildred says:

    I enjoyed reading this post so much Kanak. Your pictures are magnificent. Thank you so much for sharing part of your life with us thru blogging.

  4. lotusleaf says:

    I enjoyed your reflections. Mango trees have a lean year in these parts- they haven’t flowered so profusely here.

    • kanak7 says:

      Thanks Padma. Yesterday I saw an egret perched amidst dense blooms. What a sight that was. But the traffic was bad (busy area) and the thought of capturing that moment had to be reluctantly brushed aside:(

  5. Randy says:

    Kanak,
    Wonderful post and enjoyed hearing about all the fruits I know very little about!

  6. Andrea says:

    Hi Kanak, we share some common childhood memories. You posted 2 of my favorite fruits, mango and jackfruit. Even during lean season i still buy them because i seem like feeling the withdrawal symptoms if not able to have them all year round. Now you are reminding me again, though i had jackfruit 2 wks ago. Mango is very dear to my heart as i’ve also worked on it for quite a while.

    By the way, i have posted something mentioning you and Radhica about my succulents found in India. But someone ID’d it already before you were able to visit.

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Andrea, thanks for the mention! I’ve learnt something new after taking a look at the succulent in your post. I’m not too fond of jackfruit but love mangoes. Here we get them only during the summer but in south India, we get them in Oct/Nov too. Enjoy your fruits!!

  7. Terra, the flowers of mangoes have charming fragrance at least the ones in our country. The fruits are looking awesome in this post. I must say the single dahlia and other flowers in your previous post were magnificent.

  8. Susie says:

    I enjoy reading about someones remembrances from long ago. Memories are precious aren’t they?

    Thanks for showing us the fruit on the trees. Lots of fun to see!

  9. Stephanie says:

    One of my neighbours, her mango tree is flowering too. It’s a lovely sight when one can imagine the fruits later πŸ˜€ I hope the tree will bear plenty of sweet juicy mangoes later. Then, I hope the mangoes would be too high for those hungry squirrels and no storm please. Btw, I love pickled mangoes!

  10. Lona says:

    Just look at all of the wonderful fruits. U have never heard of a Jack Fruit tree though. Mangoes sound wonderful about now here.
    I was looking at the dahlia in your previous posting and it is so pretty.
    I am starved for flowers and color these winter days. πŸ˜‰
    Lona

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Lona, it feels so good to be able to share what is considered commonplace here but exotic elsewhere. I’d never shown common fruit from here but now seeing the responses, it’s definitely worth it.

      Thank you for checking out my older posts too. May Spring arrive soon…for you! Happy weekend!

  11. Titania says:

    Kanak, the most beautiful post of your mothers fruit trees, the reminiscence of a happy childhood. I know and love the call of the Koel, his call coincidences here with the grape harvest! We had a bumper crop of Mangoes this year. Such a blessing are these wonderful fruit. We could give away to the neighbours even the postie got a box full, he was very happy and said he will make some pickle!

    • kanak7 says:

      Trudi, thank you so much! Your orchard must be a magical place….the mangoes and so many other wonderful fruit. I’ll have to make a note of hearing the koel’s call for the first time this year. People usually write in to the local newspapers about hearing it. It’s nice to know that the calls are not in vain;)) I think your neighbours (and the postie) are lucky!!

  12. Greenthumb says:

    Hi Kanak, that was one of the most soul touching renditions I have ever read. Your thoughts and their expression is amazing. I guess that is what happens when the words come straight from the heart…it shows.
    Mango tree will always be a revered one in our country. Not only is it the throne for the king of fruits, but its wood is also considered auspicious and used in religious ceremonies. Enjoyed the post thoroughly.

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Green Thumb, thank you so much! You’re very kind. To read a comment like this is an inspiration to write better, post better pictures. Thank you for doing that for/to me. I wasn’t aware of the wood being an important feature of religious rituals. I thought it was only the leaves. Pleasure to have you stop by.

  13. Nicole says:

    Wow, all that fabulous fruit. Mangoes are among my favourite-when in season I can eat up to 10 a day!

  14. I see you had such a green childhood! Yummm! The mangoes! I wanna taste the pickle prepared with those tiny mangoes here (We call it Vadu-manga)… Your memories tingled my taste buds and I too love the storms when the air is so silent and innocent.

    • kanak7 says:

      Chandramouli, apt description of my childhood. You’re lucky to get mangoes twice a year. We get them only in summer so we gorge on them as if our lives depend on it;)))

  15. wendy says:

    Oh Kanak, what a beautiful piece of writing! I also was hanging onto every word. You must write a book! (unless you’ve already done so). I’d read it.

    I am so sorry to hear of your father’s illness. And your mother’s role as caregiver (I totally understand her letting some things go). How very sad. Sending healing thoughts their way.

    I love mangos too. Of course they don’t grow here, so we buy them in the grocery stores. I’m sure they don’t taste the same as freshly picked, but maybe one day…..

    Your pics are great. Nice to see a mango tree and the other fruit.

    • kanak7 says:

      Wendy…no, no. That’s beyond me but I’m so happy to read your comment on this post! And thank you for mentioning my parents. Many of your posts have touched my heart…the similar kind of situation.

      That’s right about mangoes. We feel the same way about apples. I’ve never tasted a freshly picked one!

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