It is nearly the wet season and, aside from all the predictions about when the first rains will come, one other question always gets thrown around: can you take mangoes from an overhanging tree? A fact sheet put together with information from Legal Aid last year notes it is illegal to pick fruit from people’s trees, even if that fruit is hanging over the fence. You can cut an overhanging branch off, but you have to return it fruit, leaves, bark and all to the owner of the tree — i.e the owner of the yard it lives in. But a productive mango tree owner would have to be quite a Scrooge to deny a neighbour pinching one or two. We had two mango trees in Karratha and there was no way we could use up the hundreds of mangoes they produced every year. At one stage our chest freezer (the outside one because in the Pilbara you have to have a fridge, two freezers and two bar fridges) was half bags of mango cheeks, and half bags of fish fillets and that was the moment my life peaked. The low point came a few weeks later when a mate who was house-sitting while I was in Exmouth turned off the power switch and the now-warm freezer became a vomit-inducing soupy cesspit. Having those trees led to an amusing moment a few years back when my physio proudly admitted to stealing fruit from his neighbour’s two big, fruit-laden trees every year. I congratulated him and said I would do the same in his position. Three days later I peered over the fence to find out his neighbour was me. We laughed, he picked more, and life carried on. If fruit is scarce leave it to the owner; there’s nothing worse than nursing a handful of mangoes while protecting them from bats and corellas only for someone to pinch them. But if the tree is bursting with fruit we say pick away, just be courteous and ask first. Ninety nine per cent of the time they will say yes, and the one per cent who say no don’t deserve to live in the north. It goes without saying that if it is a commercial farm that is a hard no-go for nicking fruit. As for how to pick the fruits at the top of the tree, a pool scoop or big fishing rod with a tent peg on the end does the trick if you don’t have a child to send climbing up there. If you have a mate with a crane or cherry picker, that works too. And a fun trick — pick them when they are green and wrap them in your trusty local newspaper to ripen them up away from the prying eyes of those pesky bats and birds. Happy mango season.