“…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. 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!