Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Never Settle

I've been reading about planting an avocado tree because I am about to do so. They get pretty big - up over 25 feet and more - and they stay sort of columnar-ish half as wide as they are tall. some Mexican varieties are cold-hardy down to the low teens, unlike the delicate Guatamalan Haas. They are not salt-tolerant, though, and where I live there is nothing but salt in the soil from the centuries long ago when this was all an ocean. I will have to build a mound up, with cactus soil, and mulch over it for aesthetics. I will build an island in the front yard where the tree may grow, up above the ground. I will be placing the tree in a burlap sack, and I will cut holes the sack, and use this to let the tree ease into the ground we have.

There are only two others in my neighborhood who seem to share my passion for fruit trees. People aren't willing to work for fruit trees. They aren't willing to spray the peaches, or learn how to prune. They don't want to bother with harvesting, processing, and all that stuff.

Also, we don't live like we used to, back when land was passed down to eldest sons. We don't think of our houses as permanent things, where we will live with out families for ten-thousand years. That's how it used to be, on this earth. You stayed where you were, and planted where you were, and cultivated where you were. Some fruit trees take so long to fruit, that people who plant the seeds might not live to see the fruit. A pear tree, bought at your local nursery, has been alive for years, and will take years when you transplant it to produce a single fruit.

We move around, then. We sell our houses and move where there's work. We think of our houses as an investment we will one day cash out. We do not ever think our children will live in this house, and their children's children, and so on.

Driving around my neighborhood, I see that in the landscape. Plants are ornaments, only. HOAs demand ornaments, property value maintenance, grass, certain kinds of high-value ornamental trees. What a strange way to live, when you think about the rest of human history before our own time. You are required to maintain the value of your home, so that everyone in the neighborhood can get a good price when the land is sold to the next itinerant resident.

Everyone's just slowly, slowly passing through to the next place. We are such a restless people, we Americans.

I plant fruit trees knowing I may never see the fruit. A job offer might come through, and I might have to go. My wife and I have discussed where we want to live next, and where we want to go next. But, I plant fruit trees because this is the right way to live: to treat everyone who comes to this house after us as our heirs, our good friends, our deserving followers. I plant fruit trees because the abundance we have now, in our stores, cannot possibly last when the price the earth pays is so very high. I mapped out a year of fruit harvests. I plotted and schemed to always have something coming in to harvest and devour.

This week, I will plant an avocado tree in the front yard. It will grow tall, and undoubtedly my neighbors will sneak up to the thing to snag an avocado from time to time, despite my objections. They will go home and may even wish that whoever lived in their house before them had bothered to plant one of the trees. We will, all of us, move on to our next houses, where we live for ten years and think it an eternity to stay in one place for so long, to really settle in. It's not settling in, though. It's just slowly passing through, like Minecrafters who eventually get sick of their plane of creation, and wipe things clean and new, build a new world for ourselves. Move on to the next house. Move on until we are not moving on to the next house, but rather moving on to the nursing home, and to the houses beyond the walls of time. Never build a home for a thousand years. Never grow an empire in a single neighborhood, buying up houses as they go empty, and planting descendants inside of them. Never carve a new world out of the high plains, where generations can watch the nations rise and fall.

Never settle. Move on from here. Maintain your house that you can protect the value of it, and sell it in ten years, to build your dream house somewhere else, and the next dream house after that one.

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