Sunday, February 8, 2009

Trees that are usually found in the home gardens in the Polonnaruwa District

I spent the whole morning yesterday, plucking the remaining mature mangos from the home gardens of my neighbors in Godabima, across the river from my place. Most of the people live in one or two acre properties with a “colony ge” constructed and given by the government decades ago, to attract settlers to the area. The homes were usually constructed in one or two designs, but as wood was plentiful, often Ebony and Satinwood was used for the rafters, and the roofs were tiled and a nice verandah was part of the design. Very few of these homes have been maintained, though various additions for kitchens and rooms have taken place. Actually they look rather decrepit.

Technically this home functions as the ‘Maha Ge’ and is therefore passed down to the youngest son or child if there are no male children, and the others given land for homes from agricultural land given by the government at time of the settlement creation. It is an interesting study in social anthropology to note that the inheritors of this property knew form a young age of this inheritance and did little to better themselves, usually falling into alcoholism by being the spoilt child, with whom the parents live till they pass away!

The trees that are now on the property are fully grown and it is almost completely shaded. Coconut forms the greater number, as there is enough for the family’s daily needs as well as sufficient to dry and mill for coconut oil as well. Then there are very tall Mango trees, which earn the homeowner between a thousand and three thousand a crop, when people offer for the tree and pluck and remove the mango. There are a collection of others that don’t give an income, namely, Jack and Del, Belli and Pomegranate, Katu Atha and Amberella, Pera and La ulu, Puwak and Siyambala, Woodapple and Orange and off course a lime tree for home use. If space permits there are a few Papaya, Banana and short term vegetable crops.

One of the comments I received was that if people are happy doing nothing then why should they improve their lot, to which I replied its fine if they purchased the means of livelihood and then made their choice. It is the state that provides, namely home, land, education, healthcare, water and electricity at minimal cost to them so that they can do nothing. That is the point. Is it any wonder that we are therefore known as the land of the “lotus eaters?”

Some of the homes of course have trees that are of value for timber, such as Teak, Mahogany, Ebony, Nadun, Halmilla, Kumbuk, and Kohomba. Some of the other trees mentioned earlier like Jack also has Timber value, then there are other trees that grow wild like Ahatu, Attikka, Bamboo, Wal kohomba, which is a type of willow, Madang, Buckmee, Cotta. I am sure I have not mentioned half of the wild species that grow unaided or unplanned.

While all these trees are accepted as quite normal to have, many of you readers, living in apartments or small homes in urban areas would nevertheless wish you were able to step out of your front door and walk amongst this veritable delight, with rare and beautiful birds singing their praises at such choice.


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