I’m indoors way more than I’d like these days. It’s a combination of working remotely from my bedroom, the heat and, in my shady yard, mosquitoes. But every so often, I hear a thump on the roof, and I know one of our eggplant-sized mangoes has just fallen. It reminds me to go out in the yard and pick up ripe mangoes and then grab our fruit picker and forage for more, high in the trees before the squirrels get them.
My husband and I began planting mango trees in the yard three decades ago when we first bought our 1934-built Florida bungalow. Our first tree was planted when our son was born; a second went in three years later when our daughter was born. In a few years, when we began to get fruit, I thought two trees were plenty. Mango trees are big and drop leaves almost all year long, and while I like that they keep the sun and heat from the house, they also mean constant raking and sweeping the front walk. But somehow, my husband managed to sneak in three more over the years, creating a huge shady canopy over the entire yard. And while I gripe about the leaves in other months, I never complain during peak mango season in July and August.
I have been gorging on mangoes for weeks now. And if you’ve only had the store-bought variety, you may not understand the maniacal passion for this fruit, which is intense, sweet and complex. We groan as we lean over the sink and bite into ripe slices. We have different varieties—Bailey’s Marvel, Carrie, Keitt and Kent—and they all have a different flavor. I’m not as good at identifying which mango comes from which tree, but my husband can probably do it blindfolded. The added pleasure is that we can go out and pick them straight from our yard—a tiny, gratifying feeling of self-sufficiency and appreciation for nature continuing to do what it does.
(If, like me, you have too many mangoes to eat or give away, try this mango chutney recipe we like from retired USFSM chancellor Arthur Guilford. Or, just as wonderful, freeze the fruit and use it in a summer mango daiquiri.)