The Tangerine Tree
Hurricane Irma did its dirty work down in Florida. Many lost much, but by human standards, I was a lucky one. My home is intact and there is no visible damage, except…
When I first had my Florida home built in the middle of a pasture, there were two friendly trees that caught my eye. I say “friendly” because a large oak and a tangerine tree were in each other’s embrace near where I planned to build the home.
My guess is that many years ago a bird or another creature had sat in the branches of the oak and released a seed. That seed grew (a little too close) into the tangerine tree.
In some ways the two trees competed for nourishment and light. Although they were closely situated, there was clearly enough to see them through their many years of companionship. When my house was finally built, I remember driving many miles from NJ excited to see the finished product. When I came around the bend, it was late afternoon and the Sun was reflecting off of thousands of tangerines with a golden welcome. It was a magical moment.
The tangerine tree took a serious beating in Hurricane Irma. Its bark is stripped and its branches are bare. There is one branch with some green leaves. My groundsman Bill wants to save the tree, but its future seems very doubtful. The skeletal figure stands next to its oak companion of many years and, to tell the truth, I was appalled and saddened.
Then I remembered that Nature was the vehicle by which that creature dropped the tangerine seed decades ago. Now Nature has taken back Her gift, asserting the ancient rhythms of the pasture. I’m left with the memory of its golden welcome over 20 years ago.
If we replace the grief of loss with “having had the privilege,” maybe the words “thank you” will roll off the tongue more easily. Gratitude is incompatible with arrogance and entitlement. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air (tinted with tangerine blossoms)!