Coconut Medicine 2

Today the ingredients of the poultice were assembled: turmeric, moth balls, rock salt, Sam's Fortified Neem Powder. The tree man supervised their mixing, put the medicine in a bag which he attached to his holster-basket, and began to climb. First he slung the longer rope -- partly covered with black rubber for extra traction, perhaps an old bicycle inner tube -- around the trunk above his head, tied the ends together to make a ring, and kept a smaller ring of the same material around one ankle. he jumped up onto the trunk, pulling himself up with the large ring, and rested both feet on the smaller one.

In this way -- throwing the larger ring upward and bringing up his feet -- he continued up the trunk like an inchworm. The palms' crowns must be about 30 feet high.

He climbed up to the base of each crown, cut down the lowest ring of leaves with his machete, along with whatever coconuts were ripe, dried-up leaves, and stem clusters from which coconuts had already been harvested. Finally he applied the medicine around the coconut stems and came back down. Each tree took about half an hour, and he charged Rs. 50 -- a little more than a US dollar -- per tree. He also carries away the cut leaves, which are made into rough brooms or coarse woven mats for thatched huts.

What strength he requires, to climb those tall, branchless trees and to do so much tending, without any more support than two rings of rope!


Dave said...

Facinating method of tree-scaling! I thought that just about all tree-climbing techniques had been covered in The Wild Trees, but this is one they missed.

Anonymous said...

In a certain island in Thailand, they have trained common rhesus monkeys to do the job of picking coconuts. Far more efficient and far less dangerous.

Although, I am not sure about that latter. What if one of the monkeys took it into their heads to throw the coconuts on the heads of the employers instead of on the ground.

A_N_Nanda said...


It's a nice post and I liked it. There's a similar post in my blog that I wrote a year back. It's available at this link:
You may like to browse.



Anonymous said...

Nancy -- you have to check this out. it is too cool!

Anonymous said...

Oops! here:

Ela said... a small girl, i was also fascinated by these tree climbers who used to carry the mud pots (kalayams) and place it on top of the trees to collect the fermented milk (kallu) from the palm trees. More interesting is that they carry back the pots filled with the liquid down! The family i know was from Tirunelvi, so i also enjoyed listening to their dialect of Tamil.