‘Pone’, pear, and ‘pitata’ farm
IT WAS time again to get away from the drudgery of life in St Andrew, to absorb and embrace what nature has to offer on this fair isle. So, to the hills of Lincoln, Manchester, I went for a day, but ended up spending two.
The quiet district was cool and refreshing as usual, and the vistas of the verdant valley and the Santa Cruz Mountain range were still spectacular. My host, the inimitable Sharn Robinson, had not changed his comical ways either. He cracked me up all evening.
After the evening shadows were eclipsed by the black shroud of night, it was time to bake the ‘pone’. It consisted of sweet potato, cassava, whole-wheat flour, peanuts, ‘macka fat’ (the nut of a variety of palm), and sugar.
The preparation took a while, and at 3 a.m., after the first round of sleep, it was ready. I couldn’t help biting into a sizeable piece as Robinson struck while it was still hot. Pone and pear it was in the wee hours. And the millions of stars looked down and drooled. The compact pone eventually pulled me back to sleep as it weighed down my stomach.
Monday morning was very cool, and the fresh mountain air going through my nostrils was what the doctor ordered. I decided to accompany Robinson to a potato farm. He was going to assist some friends in reaping potatoes. So, in sandals, I followed. At a certain point, he left to tend to some other business, saying he would not be long.
He had pointed up a slope, directing me as to where I should walk, and off he went. He left a little bucket of water with me. I contemplated whether I should return to his place because rural folk have a way of saying something is “right up deh so” when it is really miles away.
Now, me and my unfit self looked up the slope and then realised that the grind of life in St Andrew was not so bad after all. With great trepidation, I started up the incline. The red-dirt path, slightly winding, was wet, and there were rocks jutting from it.
As I ascended, I found that it was steeper than it had looked from below. The farther up I went, the more doubts I had about continuing, and Robinson’s return was yet to be. Where were my ancestors in all of this?
I left the dirt path and trod on the grass-like vegetation only to find that it had covered partially embedded stones, which were everywhere. My left foot hit one of them and the bucket of water shook. Some of the cold liquid fell on to my sandal. I put down the bucket. Robinson would see it on his way up.
Finally, I reached the top of the slope. Surprisingly not winded. There was a path on the right leading to another slope, with trees on both sides. Straight ahead there was a clearing. The ground was flatter.
I decided not to take the slope, even though I did not know where I was going. Then I heard a voice. Somebody was calling out for Robinson. That gave me some confidence, but where was he?
When I reached the middle of the clearing, I heard him calling me from above. How did he get up there? I answered, and that was it. No more calling. At the edge of the clearing a mound presented itself to me. To get to where Robinson was calling from I would have to climb over it. I held on to some small trees and pulled my ageing body up and over.
Breathless, I found myself at the
Sharn Robinson of Lincoln, Manchester is a farmer, natural jeweller and baker of puddings and ‘pones’.
‘Hospitality Jamaica’ writer Paul H. Williams wipes sweat from his brows after unearthing sweet potatoes.