Our magnificent Pera tree fell down last night in a rapid rain storm with strong wind. Some say it was a cyclone. I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s poem, When Great Trees Fall.
Our great Pera tree once stood tall and proud surveying our island of peace. There are very few Pera trees on Ometepe Island. It was a delicious treat for the neighborhood children and a favorite roosting spot for our free range chickens.
When the blossoms fall silently to the fertile volcanic soil, they carpet the ground like purple sprinkles on a chocolate cupcake. The neighborhood children flock to the great tree, plastic buckets in hand, ready to gather the sweet delights.
“Are the Peras ripe?” the children ask.
“Not, yet, but soon,” I reply.
The Pera (botanical name Syzygium malaccense) has several other names including the mountain apple, water apple, Malay apple, and rose apple. It is not a native of Nicaragua, but originated in Southeast Asia and is widely cultivated in Central America, India, the Caribbean, and many tropical island countries in the South Pacific.
The Pera fruit has a waxy and shiny red skin, but its bell-shaped body and unique taste have no resemblance to any apples of the western world.
This year, our great tree was loaded with big Pera fruits. It was common to have a branch snap off our tree because of the fruits’ weight. I had big cooking plans for our fruits. Last year I made apple pie, apple sauce, and apple dumplings. We cut and froze the ripened fruits and then thawed them when we had a craving for a sweet apple taste. This year, I planned on making apple butter.
Last week the children came with their buckets in hand.
“Are the Peras ripe?” they asked again.
“Almost,” I replied again. “Come back in about two weeks.”
Last night at dusk, our great tree fell. The chickens were confused. They circled the fallen Pera tree, clucking in alarm. Then, they huddled together in the rain, silently surveying their fallen home. “Where will we sleep tonight?” they whispered to each other.
“When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.”
“And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”
This morning we investigated our great fallen tree. We were lucky that it fell in the perfect place. If it had fallen to the left, it would have toppled our water tower and snapped our internet cable. If it had fallen to the right, it would have damaged our guest house and garage.
We are hopeful that part of the great Pera tree can be saved. The trunk is still intact, and bunches of nearly ripe Pera fruits are clinging desperately to the lower branches. Pera trees grow rapidly, with a lot of selective pruning.
I may not be able to make apple butter this year, but I have faith that when great souls die, after a period peace blooms again. Of this, I am certain.