Another week has gone by and some of the colorful blossoms have already fallen from the forsythia and Rose of Sharon, slowly painting the lawns beneath them yellow or pink and white. I walked around the corner and there were catkins scattered under my neighbors pussy-willow. Crab apples and cherry trees are struggling to bring forth their blossoms hoping to attract bees and bugs – anything to help with the pollination.
Over the years I’ve learned to be patient with the bosc pear tree in the corner of our yard. It is always tardy and is usually frugal with its bounty. We’ve been in our house for thirty years and lost many trees to age and disease. There were both a crab and grafted fancy apple trees, cherry, mountain ash, mock orange, lilac, and others that died and that we mourned.
As a boy growing up in New York City I never knew trees died. Maybe I only knew of Redwoods or maybe it was a naïve hope that trees lived forever. I was small and they were impressively big and majestic. So many different ones. I learned to love them and now at times when I walk my dog and no one is looking even stop to per some of the trees, feel their bark, and let them know they’re doing a good job being I tree.
If it’s cloudy and overcast and I’m in a more reflective mood I may even apologize for the pollution and climate change that seems to be killing so many of them. Never mind the forest fires that are increasing in number and intensity. Hey, I’ve an idea – what about a fundraiser to pay #45 to rake some of those forest floors? Just asking.
In the commentary on the Bible, there is the story of an old man planting a fig tree. Emperor Hadrian sees and asks him why he’s doing this. And he answers, “I enjoyed what others planted for me and these I plant for those that follow.” Whether he was thinking only of his grandchildren or others is NOT the point. He was making a connection from the past through himself to the future. This is a question that is broader than just trees or things that need decades to bear fruit. And it’s a question that we always need to be asking of ourselves and others.
The Native Americans view the land as on loan for their children and children’s children. What we do in the present will bear fruit in the years to come. How are we doing? Are we planting a bitter crop of hate and animosity or salting the soil with venom so that nothing will grow? Glares do not nourish while smiles and kindness provide compost and nutrients.
We don’t have far to look; we should look down at our feet and then up inside ourselves. We’re all hurting in some way or another. Can we learn to pull out the weeds that are limiting our growth? Cast off old and new hates that are choking our roots?
Let’s come back to our “gardens,” and think about what we can do going forward. I can weed out some of the trash on the streets. I can be more considerate at home. I can smile and wave to someone different than me when I’m out and about. And without telling anyone, I can have a kind thought for myself (perhaps most of all for myself) and for others.
Of course, things don’t always work out the way you’d want them to, but maybe that’s part of what we have to learn. Last year we had some popcorn that wasn’t popping all that well. As a lark, I planted a couple of clusters around the yard not thinking anything would come up. I was surprised. I had lots of corn stalks coming up; I felt like “Farmer Ken, you’ve done it!”
I watched as they grew tall, ears formed and learned about tasseling from a neighbor across the street (I’m a city boy). And then, every time I thought I’d be able to pick an ear in two days, the squirrels came at night and beat me to it. I was shut out for the season. This year I think I’ll plant the kernels in nearby woods. That way I won’t have to cry in my beard and the squirrels can eat their fill.
OK. Let’s have green-growing thoughts. Maybe a planter with some flowers? Or if you’ve no space of your own, is there a city project or ecology center nearby? Or a corner park? Confession: when I was in college I’d save the seeds from marigolds and the following years would plant them all over in the spring –I hope the statute of limitations has run out on that one.
I’ve another idea that goes back to those college days: avocado pits and lemon seeds. I’m sure there’re YouTube videos on how to start them and grow them inside. It’s fun. And since sharing is good, start something green and make a cutting. Lots of succulents are easy to propagate. Share with a neighbor or friend. Or put it in a pot with a note out on the curb or in the foyer of your apartment building: Healthy plant looking for a good home. Now we get this idea going and we could have some real Green Power of friendship.
It’s an idea.
And if the editor looks the other way, try searching the internet for guerilla gardening and seed bombing – maybe this fall we can submit pictures to The Havok Journal, an informal contest. Best garden wins a collapsible watering can, the kind you can quickly empty and stash under your shirt in case the “man” catches you.
Not sure if there’s such a thing, if not, why not market under the Havok logo. “Killer idea” if this gets past the editor. [Editor’s Note: it did ;)]
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at email@example.com.