Probably the hottest month in Belize every year is the month of May. It can be so hot that in the nation’s capital the haze sits, large and in charge, in our atmosphere. The highways are buzzing with heat waves, and the ground is cracked and dry like our lips in a North American winter. Smoke from farmers burning milpas competes with the haze to be the dominant feature in our daily lives. But some days we see startling blue skies with white puffy clouds that seem to invite us to come up there with them, when all we wish for is for those clouds to squeeze out some water and break the heat.
As ugly as the heat is though, I find myself wishing that I could have “May month” characteristics. May is the month of the flamboyant trees, reds, purples, oranges and yellow, that remind me of the big flamboyant tree just beyond our verandah when I was child. My sister and I would get on to that monster of a tree (or so it seemed to us as little girls) by jumping from the verandah onto a big branch just within our reach. We’d hang out in the tree, high above the ground, picking the flowers and talking and making up stories, until we were summoned for some chore or other. Then, we’d jump back on to the verandah, saying ‘hasta la vista’ to our tree.
The Mayflower and Bukkut trees bloom in the month of May, producing a lilac color that lights up highways and riversides and yards. We have memories of sitting in a cool river somewhere, cracking open the bukkut on a river rock, sucking on the gooey syrup, chewing on the bony layers, and then spitting out the seeds.(For a long time, though, we used to wash those seeds off and save them for their future role as Bingo markers).We found that a river is the perfect place for exercising the art of bukkut- eating because there you can wash the stench of your hands right away and no-one would know you’d been enjoying the ‘stinkin toe’ unless you told them.
In Toledo during the month of May, the little yellow butterflies hold regular meetings on the highway, and all the offshoot roads. I love driving up to any such gathering and seeing them burst up into the air, seeming to dance all around the car, adding a burst of color on a hot day.
In May, the African tulip blooms in full orange glory and the Golden Showers tree drip their bright yellow flowers in a pool on the ground beneath them. These trees stand majestic, wherever they are. Their beauty makes us all wish we were great photographers, or painters, or have some form of artistic expression within our capability so we can share it as we see it. Mango trees, from the smallest to the grandest, are laden with brown blossoms and small fruit that seem to drown out the green of the trees.
If you’re lucky enough to live in Hopkins, or know someone who does, you’re already having your first taste of Blue Mango. I happen to know of a particular Hairy Mango tree on Princess Margaret Drive that’s already well into its first of three crops for the year. Custard apples (served with condensed milk), mahmi apples, (chilled and sliced), and May plums,(big and green, or big and red) are widely available. Cashews, red, orange and yellow, are dripping from trees in your yard, your friends’ yards, in Crooked Tree and Burrel Boom, and through the Sittee River road.
How it is that in the hottest month of the year, the trees are so beautiful and laden with fruit? Can I be like that? Even when I am being scorched by life’s unfairness, and am thirsty from a lack of good things being poured into me, would it be possible for me to bloom and stand tall and be majestic? Will it be said of me, that instead of turning brown and withered like the grass when there’d been too much sun for too long, and too little water in the recent months, that I drew on the stores that I had within me? That I used them to continue with the work that I’ve been given by my Father: to produce the fruit that only I can; the flowers that only I can? Even in my dry, hot spell, is it possible for me to bring joy to others who see me, live with me, work with me?
Copyright © Debbie Mendoza July 2021