We had two mango trees in our yard up in Mānoa Valley. We wen call um “Da Top Mango Tree” and “Da Bottom Mango Tree”. How original! Us keeds would climb da trees ‘way up high into da top branches. We could spy on peepo around, or ack like da big branches was horses dat we could ride. Sometimes I wen climb up high an jass sit deah, enjoying da soft makani blowing ovah me, gently rocking da branch I was sitting on. I specially love doing dat wen da trees stay full of da yellow blossoms.
Befoah da mangos wen get fully ripe, we wen pick some an eat um wit shoyu, sliced up. Ho da ono! Of course, wen ripe da mangos, us keeds was da mango raiders. Den we would climb da trees and pick all we could, den stuff ourselves wit da sweet fruit, da juice dripping down our chins an all ovah our clothes. My maddah wen get aftah us, cuz she like use da mangos foah chutney and salads an stuffs… mostly jass sliced up in one big bowl.
But suddenly, every year, seemed like we no could keep up wit da mangos. Had ‘way too many! So some of dem, mostly da ones from da tops of da trees weah we no could reach, wen drop onto da grass. By da time dey wen drop, dey was choke ripe; sometimes dey wen pop open ontop da grass, making one icky mess.
About dat time, my papa-san wen tell us keeds was time foah pick up da squishy mangos cuz he like cut da grass. Since Mānoa Valley gets ovah 100″ of rain a year, da times he could cut da grass on Sunday wen he pau hana wasn’t frequent. So we no could waste time picking up dem mangos.
But ho, how we wen whine! “Aww, Daddy, we no like pick up da mangos! Da buggahs stay all squishy an yukky!” But our whining wen fall on his deaf ear. He wen tell us get busy.
U shoulda seen us! Us girls had da two-fingah pick-up. Touch as litto of da mango as possible. Pick um up, an hope da buggah no broke befoah we wen poot um insai da rubbish bag. Cuz if broke, den all da squishy going land on our bare feets. Eewwwww! My braddah, he no care. He wen pick up da squishy mango any kine way, an wen pretend he was going chrow um on us girls. Den my faddah wen yell, “Eh u keeds! I need foah cut da grass! Nemmine dat kine!”
Sometimes da grass stay long enuf dat we no could see da squishy mangos, and ick! Down wen come our bare feets ontop all dat squishyness. Den we wen do dis hop-run to da hose so can wash off our feets.
Finally we stay all pau, at least foah anoddah week, an my faddah could cut da grass.
Today, here on da mainland, I buy mangos from da store, where dey stay all nicely stacked in nice, neat rows. Dey come from South America, was probably picked green, and oni have half da flavor of da ones I wen grow up with. But if I like eat mangos, dis is my oni choice. I look at dem, pick up a few ripe ones (for one exhorbitant price) an put dem in my cart. I would give anything for mangos grown where da Hawaiian trade winds blow, whose flavor stay unmatched, and come from da tree wea underneath, squishy mangos litter da ground.