Tuesday, March 29, 2011

glean grow the mangoes

Under the spreading mango tree,

The casa hammock hangs.

I don't much like the original Longfellow version.  And I am not certain mine is an improvement.  At least, mine has the virtue of being true.

Because I do have a spreading mango tree in the garden.  A dandy specimen. 

Tall.  Wide.  Sturdy.

It forms the foot anchor for my hammock.  A tamarind playing its mirror role at the head.

For the past two months, my garden has been covered with early fruit drops -- as the tree sacrifices some of its progeny in the hopes of nurturing the better of the lot.

Ir started with little green pellets.  Followed by almond size rejects.  We are now up to fist-sized pieces.  Big enough to rouse unwary sleepers in the hammock.

But when I am allowed to rest in my swinging siesta web, I dream of ripe mangoes.  And they will soon be here.  Sweet.  Juicy.  And lots of work.

At least, mine are.  They are almost all pit.  But the persistent are rewarded with strips of pure hedonistic delight.  It will soon be time again for me to make my cold mango soup (the once and future soup)  -- one of the true joys of our hot, humid summers.

That is, I will get to enjoy the mango bounty if I can figure out the recent culprit that has been gnawing on my fruit.


This is what I am now finding among the fallen fruit.  And I think I know the culprit.

Most of the birds in my back yard are shy.  But there is a mammal that wins the reclusive award. 

And those marks are clearly made by incisors.  Not by some birdy beak.

A squirrel.  Not one of your Disneyish heart-warming curious park squirrels.  This fellow would no more beg for a handout than would my grandmother.


He is a Colima tree squirrel.  Almost coal black.  Much darker than the fellow in this stock footage.  I hear him more than I see him.

He is particularly fond of the tamarind pods.  But it is quite apparent the mangoes are now first in his stomach.

At least, I hope it is the squirrel.  I have heard there are plenty of fruit rats   in these parts -- even though I have not seen one.  And being the ratty criminal types they go by many aliases.  Citrus rat.  Roof rat.  Black rat.


Whatever name they use, here is the mug shot. 

With eyes made from the pits of some discarded fruit.  Naked little politician hands.  And a coat that would be better-suited to some old matinee idol.

But they are known for their fruit sweet tooth.  And my mangoes would be the perfect treat.

For some reason, I find it far more acceptable to be pelted by a squirrel than by a rat.  Even though I think of squirrels as nothing more than rats with bushy tails.
Among my other faults, I am a speciesist.

I will await the crop that nature deigns to give me.  I may end up being the gleaner in this particular field.


Felipe Zapata said...

The foot anchor for your hammock? Does this mean that you always face the same direction in the hammock? Is there no variety of vista? I recommend you flip over now and then.

I don't know how it is there on the sweltering coast, but I have long noticed the shortage of squirrels hereabouts. Back where I came from above the border, squirrels were everywhere. Rarely spot one here.

Mangoes seem "greasy" to me. Don't care for them. But my wife makes a mango salad that is a heavenly experience, so mangoes are unpredictable.

Now turn around in the hammock today, and see what's behind you. Could be a surprise.

Kwallekno said...

My Uncle Floyd called those of the bushy tails tree rats and was of the mind to shoot every tree rat he could. The man kept fruit trees and nut trees and was not of the mind to share.

Steve Cotton said...

Pragmatism rules over conservatism in my hammock practices. If I recline in the opposite direction, I stare at the blank wall of the house. Too much like listening to Philip Glass for me. Give me the rococo views of the garden and the laguna.

I see more squirrels in cages in town than I do in the trees. And there may be a cause and effect relationship there. In Oregon, they were as thick as starlings. And every bit as irritating.

Steve Cotton said...

After the squirrels did $1800 of wiring damage to my BMW, they became vermin to me. Professor Jiggs was given permission to catch as many as he could. And he did.

ANM said...

Underneath the spreading mango tree
the Cotton mouth slow swings.
Through an arc of chained-motion free,
he thinks on many things.

While overhead both squirrel and furtive rat,
eyes fixed on his summer thought,
plan their plan to steal his fruit and scat,
with everything they got.

But Cotton mouth will pay no mind to this
or any other garden crime.
He'll simply swing away in vernal bliss,
to dream of a distant climes.

(with regrets to the entire history poetry)


Carolyn King said...

Should I worry if our mango tree is showing no such signs of future bounty? but seems kind of dry and lifeless?

Steve Cotton said...

Where is it? The mango trees in this area have been in bloom for well over a month. What are your neighbors' trees doing? Of course, there are several varieties -- all with their individual quirks.

NWexican said...

I hear they taste like chicken.

Steve Cotton said...

I once met a man from Walla Walla,
Whose prose was hard to swalla.
What wit he had
With poems not bad
Dressed up as caterwaula.

Steve Cotton said...

Which? The rats, squirrels, or mangoes? Sound like a good recipe to me.

I have to admit everytime I hear mango I think of Mongo in Blazing Saddles. We are seldom high brow at this address.

NWexican said...

Only pawn in game of life..

Steve Cotton said...

But nature serves up such tasty bits. Even a pawn can become a prawn.

ANM said...

There goes Western civilization as we know it.

Steve Cotton said...

I thought I would invite Ogden Nash to the party.

Wasn't it Gandhi who, when asked what he thought of western civilization, responded with: "I think it wiould be a good idea." I suspect Oscar Wildfe wrote his material.

Purplepatty2 said...

Perhaps your mangos, at the beach, are way ahead of ours in the highlands. I have seen rats during the day in my mango tree, munching away. But only after the fruits begin to sweeten; the early dropped fruit is left to rot by rat and squirrel alike. However, my dog likes the green ones. She likes eating avocados even better, especially in the middle of my bed.

Steve Cotton said...

For Professor Jiggs, it was plums. He ate them pit and all. And he preferred them fermented in the sun for a week or so.

Carolyn King said...

Baca, near Motul, it had a 2 very small green egg size mangos, 2 weeks ago but the tree doesn't seems not to have many leaves on the top branches and it is a huge tree. There has been a lot of construction around the roots. I haven't been there for two weeks -- maybe there has been some change. Last year, there were many many mangos . . . b4 construction. But I don't really know when it came into bloom last year.
And oh, how I love mangos!

Steve Cotton said...

Of course. I knew that, but it slipped my mind. It seems your growing seasons should be similar to ours. Maybe mangoes are like other fruit trees and have their own jubilee year.