Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Embrace



A dozen years ago, a seed landed in a field next to where we would eventually install a driveway. There were no cars, no trucks, no roads or electrical lines. There was just an adult mesquite tree, and a cedar seed lying at its roots.

Over time the seed grew into a sapling, and during the summers of its youth the mesquite leaves would shelter it from the worst ravages of the sun. Mesquite thorns kept away any deer or other wildlife who might want to dine on the new shoots, and discouraged rabbits from tunneling through and destroying the young tree.

During the winter, when the sheltering mesquite still had protective thorns but no leaves, the cedar sapling drank in the sun spilling through the naked branches. Safe from predators and without competition for light, times were good.

Eventually Annie and I moved in. We put in a road that skirted the two intertwined trees, installed a house, imported dogs and donkeys and goats and wireless internet and all the detrius that accompanies us. The cedar is no longer a sapling, and the mesquite is no longer the protector. Now the mesquite is struggling for its own life, as the cedar branches block out the sun and acidic needles drop to the ground below.

This is no warm embrace of a mentor and student. No, this is a life and death struggle taking place in slow motion, over the course of instants that stretch for years. Eventually the cedar will choke out the mesquite, and the thorns that once served as armor will instead become markers for a grave.

I pass these trees every day, and I wonder at the lessons they hold. Are they a metaphor for the older giving way naturally and gracefully to the younger? Or are they evidence that the wages of kindess are death and destruction?

I am not wise enough to know for sure. I can but watch, and wonder, and be thankful that my eyes are able to see the struggle.

9 comments:

annie'sbuddie said...

My partner likes to say "No good deed goes unpunished". I prefer to believe it is not true, but I guess this is an example that sometimes it seems to be.

Jill Phenix Avila said...

Deep Thoughts... BUT I say chop the darn cedar down! Down will all evil cedar trees! They are not native (of course neither are Mesquite trees) and they take up precious ground water.

TexasAnnie said...

I think Bush had it wrong with his "axis of evil countries." As a Texan, he should know that the real evil of all evil is the cedar tree. And the next most evil tree is the mesquite tree. So I hope these two in our front yard squash each other out and save Jeff from having to chain saw them down! Pls know these are the ONLY types of trees I hate. I am a tree hugger from way back!

Joey said...

You think too much.

Jeff Hebert said...

Joey said...

You think too much.

I have to make up for the dullards in my family who don't think at all >:-D

Anonymous said...

Dude, you are getting deep. And I mean that in the best way. These last three entries are the deepest yet. Blog on, there's wisdom in your words.

Longish time fan of your HM work, shortish time fan of this blog.

Jeff Hebert said...

Thanks anonymous! Nice to have you here at NerdCountry. Just don't yell at me for working on this instead of HeroMachine stuff, I swear this doesn't take up THAT much time!

The Cow Whisperer said...

As the ONLY Republican reading this blog, I'm proud to report that I'm having a Rodney King "Can't we all get along" moment....

I'm in complete and udder agreement that both the cedar tree and the mesquite tree are a metaphor for all things demonic.

Were they anything less than pure evil, then they would have been born as grass or some other form of donkey fodder.

Jeff Hebert said...

As the ONLY Republican reading this blog, I'm proud to report that I'm having a Rodney King "Can't we all get along" moment....

Actually I think the Republicans outnumber the Democrats here, but we're all Americans so it's moot! Except for the cows, they're just moo ...

I deserve to be shot for that pun.