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.