Boundary

The pear tree beyond my back door greets me these mornings with a strikingly white and fragrant bouquet. Even the rain has not been able to deter this old tree from its habit of blossoming early each spring with such efficiency and grandeur. How easily I forget the power and rhythms of nature exhibited in the plant kingdom, but in early spring I am quickly reminded to look about at this renewal of our world’s quilted blanket.

I spoke with B.D. last evening about his upcoming trip to Chile, where he goes once or twice each year to check up on the apple harvest for his distribution company. He has a knack for just missing large earthquakes when he goes. The last big one he would have been in, but had to cancel his travel plans when he found that his wife had brain cancer. Now she is gone. This past week Chile received another big one, 7.4, but he has not yet flown down, so has ducked another big one. His biggest concern, he told me, since it is near harvest time in the southern hemisphere, is that the quake may have shaken all the apples off his trees. In three days he will know what fruit still hangs.

Nature is often so odd and contrary in her purposes, taking the time and care to produce such sweet and tasty fruit through a process that is nearly divine, then in an instant shaking off all her efforts with an apocalyptic determination. I can see why my ancestors thought in terms of the forces of life being directed by two opposing forces, one with evil intent and the other pure goodness. Us moderns prefer to scoff at the notion of good versus evil, but even in my own life time, as a child, when I would go see cartoons at the movie house, the characters would often be depicted as having an angel sitting on one shoulder and talking to them, while a devil talked to them on the other shoulder. The image of the two opposing voices speaking is somehow no longer culturally correct, I suppose, which makes me wonder if perhaps the culture itself is incorrect.

On the central California coast we had such a mild winter that the sap in the apple trees did not set, so the blossoms have not yet appeared, whereas inland in the foothills of the Sierras the blossoms are now happening.

For the next few weeks, California routinely goes through its most colorful time of the year. Brown hills go green and fields fill with a variety of flowers, oak trees that seem dead suddenly bud, and blue sky puffs up with majestic clouds that appear taller than the Himalayas. I must get out to the coastal mountains with my camera for a better look. Some of these days are so scenic that I wish I could just freeze the frame and stare forever, but my camera must suffice for as long as I am bounded by time.

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