My favorite mango tree is now wearing an array of warm glowing lights. With the flip of a switch it becomes lighted. But it has always been enlightened…..

This tree has been a beautiful reminder and witness to all the magical as well as tragic events in my life over the past nine plus years. Take a look…..

2008 The mango tree – with the palm tree just beyond the house

I first saw the mango tree on the day I decided to buy the Tico house. It was March, 2008 – and the last day of my Southern Zone extension with Jane Gregson on the ‘Live in Costa Rica on Your Social Security’ tour. I stood next to the tree as I implored the Universe for a sign to affirm my wild and crazy impulse to buy. I took the presence of the hand sized blue morpho butterfly as the Universe’s affirmation. The tree offered no argument.

That day I noticed several trees on the slope above the house – but just three main trees on the flat area, spaced apart and near the house. Along with the mango was a palm tree and a mandarina (sour mandarine orange). I thought to myself that all I would need was an avocado tree and I’d have a perfect salad…

Not much attention was given to the mango tree during the first building projects after I moved into the house on Christmas Eve, 2008. Using money I’d received from my first Intensives in 2009, I built the aviary and two cabinas up on the wooded slope. Then I began planning the rancho studio, just on the other side of the mango tree.

In 2010 the concrete and metal framework was built for the studio – and a wood planked infinity deck was designed to partially encircle the tree. The mango had become an important part of the plan.

Soon there were orchids hanging from the lower branches. The infinity deck, so named as a parody of the current ‘infinity pool’ fad, became a favorite place to gather for a glass of wine or beer with the tree and the ubiquitous view. And the red chairs were perfect.

Frank Thompson and I began seeing each other in 2010, while the studio was being built. And it wasn’t long before we found our favorite place to sit and talk under the mango tree on the edge of the infinity deck.

In the early part of 2011, the outdoor kitchen part of the studio was completed and plans began to rebuild my house. A new steel framework would replace the old wood and all of the termite infested wood would be removed and replaced with new wood. The work progressed through 2011.

As soon as the dry season began in January, 2012 – the timing was right to remove the old roof and replace it with the new one. It was during the one night just before the new roof installation that the unimaginable happened. I woke in the night to the sound of rain on the makeshift tarp over my bed. A freak rainstorm had suddenly appeared. That night I lost paintings, books and electronics – and Frank drove from his farm across town to help. We carried what we could save out to the studio. And in the morning, The mango tree served as a steady anchor to hold a makeshift clothesline with its other end tied to the fence. Clothing, bedding and books were laid out to dry in the morning sun.

As the house rebuilding wound down, the mango tree maintained its majestic rein over the yard and deck. I noticed a little bit of space between the infinity deck and the bridge that connected the studio to the walkway around the house. Because I’d always loved heliconias and used it in my logo, I brought one of the pink varieties home, wondering if it would like the place next to the mango tree. And I wondered if the mango would like the company. Billy, my Tico surrogate son and gardener and advice giver suggested we give it a try. The heliconia simply loved the spot and is now intertwined with the tree. Looks like a win win.

2012 ended with the projects all completed – the outdoor kitchen, along with the rebuilt house – with new plumbing and electricity and a higher and finished roof. Additionally, an outdoor shower was finally added in the garden.

At the end of the 2012 the projects were finished. Frank and I celebrated in our secretly contrived wedding that was announced as a birthday party for me (turning 70) that became a surprise wedding for Frank and me. Only our friends were surprised.

Soon after, Frank and I decided on one more project – a house for Frank. The work began in early 2014 and Frank never saw it finished. He died unexpectedly in March, 2014.

That year the mango tree produced a record bounty of mangos – more than ever before. It was almost like mangos were falling from the branches as tear drops. So many – over thirty a day for weeks. Anita quickly responded by taking bags full to her house to squeeze into mango nectar.

Frank’s house, Casa Tranquila was finished in 2015 and added a lovely, an poignant finish.

The infinity deck continues to provide the special place to be – under the mango tree and facing out to the incomparable view over the valley beyond. Here, with my son, Tim – we enjoy this special place.

A guest brought a ceramic plaque that now hangs in the tree. It reads, If you are lucky enough to live in the Tropics, you are lucky enough. I couldn’t have said it better.

This year, 2017 – the mango tree became the subject of a video and a watercolor sketch.

As I sat with my friend and student, Kai Harper studying the tree as our subject for the watercolor sketches, I realized that I had not fully appreciated and studied this tree that had been such a visible and steady part of my life here. It was simply a beautiful tree that had grown right along with me for the past 9 years.

No wonder I now love to sneak out to the tree on the darkest of nights and flip the switch to see it lighted. It is my favorite tree. Enlightening.