Miss Meada’s yard had a distinct smell, a medley of aromas. There was the smell of her cooking: pan fried fish and fungi (fungi is boiled corn meal with okra) red pea soup (kidney beans with Hubbard squash and dumplings) baking bread, salt fish and of course, Johnny cakes.
There were other smells too. There’s a tree called the painkiller. It has very large rubbery leaves. You can put the leaves on your skin under your clothes and it will act like a heating pad, soothing sore and aching muscles. Its fruit, however, is quite disgusting. It is the fruit which gives the tree its other name; devil apple.
The devil apple, when ripe, is a whitish-yellow-grey; pus colored. It has with black spots, like eyes. The spots are seeds that can be seen through its almost transparent skin. It’s altogether a very ugly fruit and when it’s ripe…when it falls to the ground and splats…well, to put it delicately, it stinks. I can’t relate the smell to anything because it has an odor all its own. The only thing the fruit was used for was as pig food. Nobody that I know of, at least nobody in their right mind, ever ate it.
The tree is native to Southeast Asia and has in the past few years become famous for its various medicinal qualities. It goes by its more “romantic” and Hawaiian name; Noni. You can see pictures and read about it here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noni
Personally I think I’d have to be tortured to even consider drinking Noni juice. Or maybe drinking Noni juice would BE the torture and I'd spill the beans rather than drink it!
Other smells in Miss Meada’s yard included peacock and chicken poop. Yes, she had peacocks both the traditional colorful kind and albinos. They had the run of Cruz Bay and could be seen strutting along the roads or perched in the trees. The only animal sound I can reproduce with any accuracy is the loud raucous call of the peacock which sort of sounds like a person screaming, “He-lp!”
She also had a large chicken coop and chickens running around her yard. Not only were they used for egg laying, but I'm sure they ended up in pots of her chicken stew. For a long time I wanted a chicken. I asked her if I could have one and in her soft brown voice she said, “If you can ketch it….” Of course I never was able to catch one for which I’m sure my mother was relieved.
There was also the smell of oleander flowers, the smell of the hard packed dirt of the yard itself, the smell of the privy, the smell of the charcoal pot, and the smell of the sea.
All of these smells and others too, mingled and mixed into a kind of soup, that was unique to her yard, and her yard alone.
If I close my eyes and concentrate I can still smell it.