IT WAS MY NIGHT to cook during a week with my extended family in Kauai. My lil’ plastic tote had all the necessary pizza ingredients, but I was still lacking dessert goods. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with some local fruit, of which there is a’ plenty on this Garden Isle. Mango, coconut, papaya, banana, passion fruit, breadfruit, avocado... But here in Safeway’s department of nicely presented produce, the stickers on the shiny objects said PERU and CHILE. I skipped the fresh fruit idea and bought ice cream, feeling slightly defeated, and a bit assholish for not making my purchases outside of My Comfort Zone.
The next day, my wife and I pedaled our rented cruiser bikes the four miles from our rented house to a county beach park to meet the rest of our crew. Near our destination, I spotted what looked like ripe papaya as we coasted past. We went on past, and I said nothing to my wife about the fruit. The vision of a couple-three orange fruit amongst a bunch of green ones popped in my head as I snorkeled (seeing more fishbellywhite than fish), buried my son in the sand (up to his neck, per his request), walked the slack line (even though I should have been focusing), and ate a sandwich (which could have used a touch of papaya).
It started to drizzle as we were wrapping up our beach day. One of my favorite activities is biking in the rain. It’s often a solo activity because not everyone’s into it. But my wife was into it and we pedaled through puddles and flew down hills as the rain continued. I suggested we make a pit stop. I parked my bike, ran to The Tree (situated along a fence of a partially-decaying hotel grounds), and started to shake it semi-feverishly. Keeping a safe distance, my wife looked at me, then the top of the tree as it wiggled, and back to me. First, I doused myself with the fat drops collected by the leaves. A green fruit thumped on the ground. Finally, my prize came loose and bounced gently near my feet. I pressed it to my nose, huffed in the good stuff, and nodded at my partner. I went to another tree, gave it a shake, got another ripe one.
We didn’t have a bag, so I pedaled the rest of the way with one hand on the bar, the other on the produce, rain streaming off all of it. Back at the house, we peeled off our wet clothing, sliced the papaya, scooped out the nectar with a spoon, and smiled.