Friday, 26 October 2012

XXXVI. Mandarin Tree

Many years ago when my boys were tiny, toddlers perhaps, I took up gardening because I wanted them to learn about seeds and soil and roots and leaves and water first hand. I took some Lilly pilly berries from one tree I had, went through the process of growing teensy seedlings from those berries, with their seeds of life hidden inside, and as they grew larger, I transplanted them along the side fence to grow a hedge. Let them grow a little wild eventually, as I got busy with life outside the house. Overhanging the path so we could hardly walk that way. But I always loved the fact that I'd grown them from seed. 

There was three fruit trees in the garden too. Lemon, mandarin and orange. Those were there when we bought the home. Sweet little fruit bearing trees. The mandarin was prolific producing enough fruit year after year to feed us, and half the neighbourhood. Amazing tasting fruit, juicy and sweet. Tasting just like sunlight. Again, they grew big, overtaking our small lawn, but they were generous with their gifts. 

I admit I was not the most successful at keeping the garden manicured. The weeds they had their way. But I got no help from the other residing in the home, only criticism for the chaos I had created. 

One day, my husband declared that he was taking over looking after the gardens and a tree lopping friend of his arrived with his chainsaw and his truck. 

I knew what was coming, and I could have fought for my trees, but I didn't. I played the victim well and let those men tidy my yard with their noisy arrogant chainsaws. When I say tidy, I mean completely remove all the Lilly pillies that had taken years to grow to maturity, and the lemon, the orange and the majestic mandarin with its boundless generosity. Years of growing, rains, soils, children's pickings, all torn down in one afternoon while I hid anguished inside the house, too useless to defend those which I had helped nurtured. It was as though I needed that loss to power my growing rage against my partner. I think that was probably the last day that place ever felt like home to me. It was a betrayal. But the part of me that longed to leave rubbed her hands in glee at this further proof of how wronged I was, whilst another grieved the loss of my green leaved gifts. And I see that it's overly sensitive and naive to be so sentimental about such things, that to many people, this would barely cause the raising of an eyebrow, let alone feel like a betrayal, but I suppose I am a tree lover. I feel their life and acknowledge that my life is connected to theirs by the air that lies between us. There was a certain symbolic nature to it all that cut me to the core. 

Months later, after I'd left, he came to me and told me he'd had a dream that we were all gathered around the mandarin tree. My eldest still a young child was picking the fruit and peeling it, squirting juice into his fathers eye. He'd woken up close to tears.

And so he should. 

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