Ecosphere Children

Nature’s gift

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The Palmyra palm is also known as the ‘wish tree’. It offers nutrient rich food, at every stage of its growth.

Vishwasrao looked at his Taadgola trees (Palmyra palm) in the first rays of the sun. Straight, imposing, and tall, they were older than him, planted perhaps by his great grandfather. The weaver birds’ nests which hung on them like Christmas lanterns, are now empty. He was waiting for the chicks to fly away to harvest the fruits.

He climbed one of the trees, with a chopper in hand. At the top, he cut at the base of a branch. The sweet sap, neera, oozed out.

Next, he harvested the ice apples. He tied them with a rope and slung them over his shoulder, and began climbing down. Half way down, he tied the earthen pot he was carrying in a sack, to the tree trunk. The neera sap would flow down the tree and collect in the pot.

Refreshing

Back home, his children, Sonoo and Amit, were overjoyed to see the taadgolas. They gorged on the translucent jelly-like fruit.

His father, Krishnarao, who was reading Tamil literature scripted more than a 100 years ago on taad leaves, rolled them up and put them back into the trunk of palmyra palm wood.

“I prefer to have my taadgolas roasted,” he said.

“Let’s keep some of this aside,” Kannan told her husband. “I can make sweets for Devi Pooja festival once they ripen.”

The fruits ripened in time for Devi Pooja. Their green coats had turned black. The spongy tissue inside had turned golden and juicy. The children helped their mother mix this with thickened milk to make a taad kheer. The rest, she fried in mustard oil to make vadas.

Krishnarao taught his children to fold palmyra leaves to look like flowers. These, they tied on a string and hung over the doorway.

That night, Vishwasrao invited his neighbours to share the sweets.

Make way for more

After the feasting, Krishnarao said, “Friends, our lives revolve so much around the Taadgolas. They serve us with nutrient-rich food at every stage of their lives. Even the dead trees serve us in building homes from their wood. The ones that are in our village are about a 100 years old. It is time we planted new treesfor our children.”

“Father, I have already placed several seeds in the vegetable waste pit in our compound, with this thought in mind,” said Vishwasrao.

The next day, the other villagers planted seeds in waste pits. Unknown to them, the new taadgola shoots grew in a tube inside the soil. Four years later, the shoots would push their way out of the ground, looking like wriggly snakes. These ‘snakes’ take about 15 years to become full grown trees. The Taadgola trees in Vishvasrao’s village still thrive, benefitting all who live there.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 12:25:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/natures-gift/article30179238.ece

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