For years I longed for a guava tree. For years I lusted at the plump, ripe fruit in other people's yards. Yet, I never thought of planting a tree of my own; until my friend, Lois, gifted me with a sapling from her garden. It did not survive the drought of 2014.
What appeared that same year, in a most unlikely place, under our front step, was another sapling. Eager, we replanted it in our backyard where there is more room to flourish. But, alas, it too did not make it.
But this sapling had every intention of being. It sprouted again from the same root under the step. This time, we were more patient, allowing it to become stronger before transplanting.
Picking guavas takes me back to Hillcrest Prep School in Brown's Town, St Ann where my love for guavas began. We reached for any we could find; we picked them green or turn (ripening or turning ripe). I do not recall finding ripe guavas to pick. What I do remember is the Nannies coming to the playground during break time with a tray of freshly-picked, washed and cut, ripe guavas to share with all of us in the school yard. What joy! We knew they got them from "Autabonds", those far-away places on the school property beyond the limits of our play area. It was not until my adult years, when reflecting on this idyllic place, that I realised that the Nannies went to the place that was "Out of Bounds" to us, and it was there that the guavas had a chance to ripen.
There was a season for everything back then. I do not know who decided on it. Maybe it was a school tradition, or maybe the weather determined. But, when it was not the term for Rounders, it was the term for Jacks, or the term for Hopscotch. The covered walkway between the main office and the Assembly Hall was where the latter two took place. There we lapped our tunics to hide our matching gingham bloomers from the boys, and there on the cold concrete pavement, legs spread, we played Jacks every day for that term. Sheila Adrian and Donna Buchanan were the best players. Ever!
Another term, the same walkway was chalked for hopscotch. I still treasure fond memories of the friendships made in these play times.
There were three school terms - Christmas Term from September to December, Easter Term from January to March, and Summer Term from April to early July. Now that I know the cycle of the guava tree, our guava picking season lie somewhere between the end of the Summer Term or the beginning of the Christmas Term.
It is a joy to make the juice from the fruit, and to stew the guavas for the out-of-season days lathered on French Toast, on pancakes, on yoghurt, or just by itself. Now, I share these delights with friends, family and our bed and breakfast guests, and have a good laugh at myself for thinking that "Autabonds" was the place where the best guavas came from.
I hope to one day place a bench under this tree. It is growing at the highest point of our backyard with an amazing view of the mountains. You can join me then.