Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day Fifty Two

There’s hope for our mango tree: we have new leaf growth.

mangoMango is one of those fruits I’d never eaten until we moved to Hawaii. In fact, I remember my first experience. I was enticed by my friend and yoga instructor Elandra. Her enthusiasm about mangoes was magnetic. So, I joined her for a walk to a tree and found the ground littered with mangoes. We each picked one up and stuck our faces in it, slurping. Juice dribbled down my chin and arms, and mango quickly became my newest favorite fruit.

When we moved into our new house, one of the first trees Eric and I planted was a mango. We’d purchased one to give to a friend for his baby’s first luau and grabbed one up for ourselves, too. It took years before it fruited. And since then, it’s grown to be a lovely looking tree; however, it’s not always been super fruitful. It produces enough fruit to keep us happy but not enough to gift friends with mango or freeze for later use in smoothies. I think it might be a variety that’s better suited for the dry west side of Kauai. No matter. We’re happy.

Six years ago, I picked a particularly young fruit. I washed it, peeled it, and plopped chunks of its meat into the blender for a smoothie. It was delicious. I remember, though, rubbing my eye and feeling a burning sensation on the thin skin below my eyebrow. That’s weird, I thought. Two days later, at bedtime, this same patch of skin started to itch. Then burn. Itch and burn like crazy. I couldn’t rub it fast or hard enough.

I checked the house for Benadryl and other antihistamines, but I couldn’t find anything. By this time my eye was on fire, and I fired up the Internet looking for tips on how to relieve it. I found numerous natural treatments. Most seemed more complicated than I cared to endeavor at 10:00 at night—a mixture of Fuller’s earth and turmeric, for example. I didn’t even know what Fuller’s earth was. Then, I hit upon something that was easy—honey. Honey was easy and honey was in a cabinet in the kitchen. So, I daubed a few drops onto my itchy skin. Lo, by the time, I walked back to bed, the itching had stopped. Just like that. Just that quickly. Just like a miracle.

Here’s the interesting thing: The blog post I wrote back in 2014 about my search for and discovery of honey as a solution to mango rash is the number one most read post on my website–ever. And it’s not even close. Since publishing it on July 20, 2014, Honey: The Simple Solution to Mango Rash has been viewed more than 72,000 times. I kid you not.

I still love mangoes. But ever since my rash, I make Eric peel all the mangoes. It’s the oil on the skin that’s troublesome–not the meat–and I’ve read that we can react differently to the oil as we age. Whereas when we’re young, we experience no adverse reaction, that may change as we age. And age I have.

This year, after a super wet winter, I didn’t see any new leaf growth on our tree—the colorful new leaf growth that’s indicative of pending flowering and fruiting–until recently. I’d even shared my concerns with Eric. With COVID-19, my sense of timing if off these days. January and February feel like a year ago. It felt too late in the season to hope for mangoes this year. But after last Friday’s drive to Poipu during which I saw many trees with the whole of New England’s fall colors on a single tree, I am hopeful we will have fruit this year–fruit for Eric to peel and me to eat.


Hawaii nudged up two new COVID-19 cases to 634 statewide. No new cases on Kauai.

Be well.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. diane tilley says:

    I became very sensitive to poison Ivy in my 50’s – to the point that I got contact dermatitis and had to go on Prednisone briefly to make it disappear. I stay away as much as possible. I have had friends that had to be hospitalized because they were near smoke from burning poison Ivy and sumach – in outdoor fires. The same Urushiol Oil in these plants is also found in the rind of the mango and you can become allergic to mangos.
    Care must be taken in peeling mangos (the fruit is fine) and certainly burning mango wood can cause the same reaction. Google it.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Hi Diane, I’m sorry to hear the same has happened to you. And, yes, I’ve researched all about its oil and its relationship with poison ivy / oak. It’s included in the essay I wrote back in 2014 that I’ve linked to in this essay. Crazy, this business of aging.


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