Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Mango Picking Team

When I eat mangoes I like them ripe, soft and juicy, where the flesh is yellow and more sugary than sugar. That is usually how they sell them in grocery stores. Unfortunately for me, that is not how the denizens of this house like them. No, they want them green, hard and tart.

Of all the people here, the primary mango picker of the house is my 12 year old, Jen-Jen. During the production period of my two particular trees—one an apple mango, the other an Indian mango—she’ll come and ask every couple of days or so for permission to pick a dozen or so. I always tell her, “Okay, go ahead. Just be careful.”

I used to ask her and the others to please let a few ripen up for me, but I don’t bother any more. They really seem to relish them green. I don’t get it. I guess they’re okay with salt; but to me, certainly not something to relish. I mean, I would only eat them like that if I had to, and so far, I’ve never had to. Why would I? I tried it a couple times like that but it just doesn’t suit my taste buds. I always ask them why would you want to eat sour mangoes when you can eat them sweet. Oh well, it’s what they like.

Watching the two of them work together to manipulate the long bamboo mango picker you have to admire Jen and Jon’s enthusiasm. Jen, being the stronger of the two, handles the picker; while her eleven year old cousin, Jon, acts as spotter, telling her which way to maneuver the basket end, with its leading edge shaped to strip the mangoes from the tree.

Of course, like many of the useful items in and around the house, my brother-in-law, Eddie, fabricated our two bamboo mango pickers as well. One is long and the other is REAL long. As the low hanging fruit become scarce, and then nonexistent, we find that only the REAL long picker will work to get the fruit that are left high and away.

The other day, enjoying the reduced heat of late afternoon, I puttered around a bit in the yard while taking in the sight and sounds of my mango picking “team” high in the trees above. It occurred to me to go in and grab the cam and take a video of the dynamic duo doing their thing more than 30 feet up in the air.

Without the tower we’d never be able to reach most of the mangoes; although I’d probably finally be able to have a ripe one or two for once. The tower’s stairs and platforms, along with the catwalks between the trees, allows us to reach all but a few of the much sought after fruit.

Aside from the facilitation of mango picking though, I enjoy the tower as a stationary getaway vehicle. In a matter of just a few seconds I’m in an entirely different world of rustling leaves and cooling breezes. Just being way up there in the trees, hidden from the world by the thick sheltering foliage while spying out on that same world through a screen of green, usually while sipping thoughtfully from a morning or evening coffee, or afternoon iced tea, makes life here not just bearable, but positively enjoyable and relaxing.


Ed said...

Every time I see a video of your tower, I just keep thinking when I get my place outside of town, I'm going to have to get one built. In town, the height ordinance wouldn't make it worth it.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I know, right? All men need to have their own tower I think.

malor said...

I miss mango trees. Love your tower. I wish we had those when I was growing up. My sister can climb trees like a monkey and she did not need a tower but I do. I love your Tagalog. I bet you'll miss your tower and trees when you move back here.

PhilippinesPhil said...

You ARE correct malor. I WILL miss my trees and tower. Its probably why I'm dragging my feet on applying for the visas. Knowing how cruelly whimsical US Immigration is, they'll likely deny us anyway. Having the tower and catwalks makes mango picking a whole lot safer, not to mention we don't have to mess with those huge red mango ants. Array!

Amadeo said...

Phil, what an ingenious way to climb and harvest from a mango tree. In my youth, I had climbed many a fruit tree, but never a mango tree. We had always thought that that was a difficult task - since older trees were usually very tall, with very thick branches and gnarled bark both making it difficult for climbing, plus the added danger that smaller branches easily break.

In our neck of the woods, the favored varieties are carabao and Indian, though the pajo variety is aplentiful. The last one is smaller and very fibrous, but very sweet. It can't be sliced so one needs to just dig into it and suck the juice off.

And yes, as kids we too preferred picking them green, not ripe.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yes, my all purpose tower. No regrets there at all. Another problem with climbing mango trees, or at least these particular ones, are the huge aggressive red mango ants. Ouch!