Labour Day Fast Breaking

Dawn this morning tinged the cumulus humilis with pink. By the time I’d gathered my breakfast and brought it out above the city, the sky was late summer blue, grey-white clouds sailing stately toward the east. Early enough still, on this holiday, for sparrow song, squirrel, and is that a rare morning corvid to be heard among the engines and wheels of the road. Birdsong is less varied in the city away from the huge parks, the goulash of human society much richer. I am home.

Labour Day. A celebration of the five day week, the eight hour day, safe factories, a mostly living wage and the end of much child labour. Victories hard won from our owners, the ones we enrich with the scrabble of our limbs and minds.

I have five strawberries from an everbearing bush near the Thames River. Four blackberries from some farm in the states, oh my friends in California with the drought and fires I wish you well. One peach, Red Haven, picked Friday from an orchard in Niagara on the Lake, nearly dripping with height of the season ripeness. Spinach and green zucchini that never saw a food terminal. A cup of pu erh birds-nest tea from Yunnan province in China. And the last cheek of the last red mango. I’d bought a case of them a fortnight ago.

My acquaintance from Pakistan grew up with twenty-seven varieties of mango in his neighbourhood. I discovered mangoes and Haas avocados a little more than a year ago. He says the champagne mangoes you can get here are good but the red mango has no fragrance, no flavour. To him, it’s garbage.

I sit on my open balcony, mid level with the city, and relish what I expect will be my last bites of the yellow flesh until next summer when mangoes are plentiful and cheap again. Here is the only mango in the world: sweet and a little firm. Smelling and tasting like the mangoes I know well: full-bodied, a little exotic to my settler palate, assured nutrition. I scrape the remnants of flesh from the rind with my teeth.

My life is a red mango. It satisfies me, caring little for the approbation of those who measure human value in fungible assets. It’s Labour Day. I am a worker, for all that my shirt has buttons down the front and doesn’t get stained with coal dust and greasy sweat. If the fruit of my garden wrinkles your nose, move along. There’s so much to be here.

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