The Joys And Sorrows Of Life – Part II

After the tragedy of losing a member of the community to the sea, the beach usually becomes empty for the periods of mourning and sometimes beyond. However as persons begin to adjust to the loss; our life style eventually readjusts to it’s normal pattern.

Soon, persons would be seen on the beach again as we eventually go back to the regular bouts of activities that we normally do on the beach. One such activity is that of having the occasional big picnic or in the Jamaican slang "cookout".

During the summer periods you can almost always predict that the sea will remain calm for at least a week, gets rough again for a day or two then back to calmness like oil on top of water. During the summer period too, is the time when the breadfruit trees are teeming with it’s seasonal crop.

Now, there are "breadfruits" and there are "BREADFRUITS". By this I mean there are two distinctive types of breadfruits, the white-heart and the yellow-heart. The white-heart breadfruits, regardless of how long you pick them, slash the skins and put them in the sun to drain. (A practice that helps to drain the stain from the breadfruit so that it tastes better.) When you roast them they look white inside and they taste like crap. A friend of mine after eating white-heart breadfruit once said, they taste like "nothing". Then there are the yellow-heart breadfruit, these, you just need to pick mark them and put them to drain, and when they are roasted they have a slightly sweet taste that is so delicious that if you don’t mind sharp you would just eat it by itself or with a little butter.

Well our community has loads of yellow-heart breadfruit trees and to go for a picnic on the beach, you have the perfect camping food available. Just pick a half-dozen or so from the evening before, slash the skins and put them to drain, in the morning they are good and ready for roasting.

Just as prevalent as the breadfruit tree is the ackee tree. Pick a two or three dozen ackees with a pound of saltfish and head down the beach, to cook the national dish of Ackee and Saltfish with roast Breadfruit. The thought is enough to get your mouth watering.

And what do we cook on? Just grab three reasonable sized rock stones, high enough so that the pot to cook the salt-thing can balance and there is enough space between them to push the pieces of drift wood, dry coconut limbs and brambles that you will find under the trees or from logs washed up along the beach. One fire will do if you are not in too much haste. Boil the Ackee and Saltfish first, drain it and put it aside. Put the breadfruits to roast. When that is finished you cook up the Ackee and Saltfish in a dutch pot over the embers of the fire, while someone else peels the breadfruit.

One day we had such a get together on the beach. We had some cousins who lived in the town, but had not come by to see their Mom, who was still living in the community, for a while. It was planned so that when they came by to spend the day with her, they would just have a cook-out on the beach, enjoying the sun, sea and sand. I was about six or eight at the time and I can still remember the fun we had spending almost an entire day on the beach, moving from the water to the sand, then back to the water, then to the sand. We ate, built sandcastles, buried each other under the sand, we dug up sea cockroaches, played ball games and cricket. We had a whole lot of fun on the beach that day sharing and having fun as a family.

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Miss PeBeep