Legume of Honor


plague of locusts

IT MAY HAVE started when she first glimpsed that porcelain cat in a Mesquite near Urban Crest. Her family’s oversized green sedan veered west off Main as she continued scanning lawns for curiosities, like she did every week. The endless reel of scenery was captivatingly hypnotic. Side roads there trace a winding tributary of the Salado, so her treasure hunting game trained her mind’s eye the same way. Some might call it vestibular image stabilization, but meditation’s more appropriate. It was Bliss. All sights delighted her: crews painting houses, robed patriarchs fetching Sunday papers, clever mailboxes, sporadic groups walking pups and pushing baby buggies, some leisurely dragging garden hoses across lawns, others more ambitious about it, old Mr. Green Jeans is tending his cowpeas again, plus all the restful homes, and the occasional gaggle loading into a station wagon. It was like her doll house but full scale and fully dynamic. “Now THIS is LIFE,” she thought, knowing she was integrated into the fabric too. Her focus locked onto a frolicking squirrel when, “WHOA, look at THAT! Let’s drive there again to see if it moves!” It was a white porcelain cat in a leaning Mesquite tree – so we did – and that route became ritual because it brought her joy.

Years later, a Friend casually reached down, picked up, and handed her an acorn the size of a tangerine from a Bur Oak, loftily towering over a 19th century chapel. It’s not difficult to imagine an acorn’s potential when resting in the protection of its mother’s canopy. Other tree-crop pairings are less distinct though: the elm has flakes, maples have copters, there are juniper berries, the multitude of stone fruit and drupes, pecans and almonds and carpathian walnuts are all better known than their parents, conifers drop pinecones, and acacias sprout bean pods. We find them in the produce section of markets, use them to adorn our homes, string them about our ankles, and bring them to our summer picnics. They’re in plain view.

Shade, fruit, flour, clean air, beauty, lumber, and dozens of other arboreal benefits, the sagacious orchard manager advises, “give 10% of the seed to the less fortunate, save 10% for rainy days, and spend the rest. That leaves 80% to sell, cook, or invest in the family farm however you want.” Others say, “Why stop at 10?” The arborist inspects each seed though, imagining legions of distress that might befall each unsuspecting sapling: mildew, blight, wilt, scaly fungus, leaf blisters, root rot, borers and termites, leaf-cutters, drought, fire, wind, floods, lumber rustlers, and the list goes on. Never losing hope, she hums a folk melody as she works undeterred. Rightly called a nursery attendant, the arborist venerates a forest of potential within each sapling more prolific than grains of sand. All this is for you. All this is for you. The drying, sorting, pruning, grafting, and mulching, through all seasons with each breath, is a whispered blessing: ”In your line is the linchpin of our specie Dear One, with roots interconnected in ways you can’t fathom. We’re counting on you even now, and that’s why I give you my Best.”

“return and declare” – Luke 8:39

Visual: Opening Sequence, Battlestar Galactica
Artist: NBC Classics (2014, 1978)

“Our planet’s survival depends in part on gifts of great trees,
and what we plant in the ground, in our souls, and in our descendants.”
– These Days, PPCBooks, Nov. 2014


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