Miracles are all around us but we just don't see them
because they start out so small and we hardly ever get around to noticing
them. We're busy, we are on the move, and we almost never have time to
stop and smell the roses, look up at the night sky in wonder or ponder the
morphology of the clouds.
I became a grandmother recently and someone told me to
plant a tree to commemorate the birth of my grandson. That way, goes the
rationale, you can watch the child and the tree grow over the years
together. A beautiful sentiment and one that helps the earth and the
creatures who make their, homes in trees. "Yes" I decided, "I will plant a
Thus having decided to follow the sage advice, I made
plans to purchase a tree and plant it on or about the day Alexander
Michael Rivera burst onto the scene. However, fate played a hand in this
sweet little story, and the tree that I planted was not a young tree eager
to enter the world, but a clever tree reborn.
Almost twenty years ago I bought my mother a small potted
"corn palm" plant for Mothers Day, or her birthday, or some occasion that
has long ago been forgotten. My mother vigilantly raised this little
plant, carefully repotting it when it grew too large for it's pots and
bestowed upon this little plant a great deal of tender loving care.
Indeed, she used to say that it was very hard for her to keep a plant
alive but for some reason, this little corn plant thrived under her care.
Mom died in 1992 and I was left to the sad task of taking
her meager belongings and finding new homes for all of them. I sat down
with the corn plant and considered it thoughtfully, decided to call him
Rastus and brought him home to live with me.
Rastus lived in a large pot in my town home and was eventually moved to
the outdoors in a huge pot so it could enjoy the sun, humidity and
Florida's sweet breezes and sun showers. When my beautiful angel fish
died, she was buried in the soil at Rastus' feet. This was a very hearty,
When I moved to my home and finally had a yard big enough
to accommodate more than a potted plant, I made the decision to plant
Rastus in the ground, knowing that I would watch him reach high towards
the sky and blossom to a beautiful, strong and brave little corn plant.
And he did. He grew over twelve feet tall, branch off into
two separate stalks and grew leaves that were broad, shiny and beautifully
marked with bright yellow stripes. It was the kind of yellow that was my
mother's favorite. Not lemon, (too wimpy), not lime, (too greeny), but
brilliant, vivid yellow, like the kind of yellow you see on the bumblebee
who frequents the tiny white flowers Rastus graced me with in the spring.
And those flowers smelled so sweet, and like a melody the
fragrance drifted through the air and formed a bouquet around anyone,
human and non-human alike, who came into it's presence. This delicate
scent only graced once a year, and lasted only a week, and so the scarcity
of it made it all the more special, something to revel in, enjoy and look
And the bees loved those flowers too, and the
hummingbirds. And the squirrels loved to climb the strong, slender stalks
from which the big, flat leaves burst forth, leaves that served as
hammocks for small lizards to laze upon while sunning themselves in the
hot Florida sun.
I enjoyed watching Rastus grow in the corner of my yard.
My mother had said, upon her deathbed, that when she got to heaven, she
would send me white flowers so that I would know she had arrived. Every
spring, with the advent of those tiny white flowers on Rastus' sweet face,
I knew she was reminding me that she, indeed, had arrived in heaven.
There are forces of nature that are so vehement, so
intense, so extreme, that it is impossible to exaggerate their ferocity.
This was the case when Hurricane Frances visited upon us such cruelty that
we were hard pressed to find any redemption. With deep sadness I watched
while she tore the leaves off of Rastus and left naught but two bare
stalks reaching helplessly to the sky. My poor little corn plant looked
for all the world like a starving victim, left in the desert to perish and
reaching heavenward in a gesture of pleading, begging to be snatched home.
Two weeks later, Hurricane Jeanne finished Rastus off,
breaking the stalks and leaving shards and shreds.
We took a saw and cut through the tattered remains, and
waited to see what would happen.
Enter Alexander Michael Rivera. A cute little baby boy
born during Hurricane Frances. Our first grandchild, a grandson. He came
into the world at a time when our world was being torn asunder. His
arrival was much-anticipated, lauded and heralded a new generation of
gentle souls who will be carefully counseled to care deeply about the
earth and her inhabitants, all of them.
I was thinking about what kind of tree to buy to plant in
commemoration of Alexander's birth when a little miracle took place. Buds
began to form on Rastus' crippled stalks. Tiny ones at first, covered with
little parasites that threatened to kill this little living thing before
it could be strong enough to survive. But I gently sprayed the buds with a
little bubbly water (nematodes hate soapy water) and the buds began to
thrive. They are numerous and strong and it's clear that Rastus will come
back stronger and bigger and braver and more beautiful than ever before.
I will watch it grow, and I will watch Alex grow, and I
will pray that both of them will be a source of food, shelter and comfort
for all manner of wildlife who come into their presence. Like Rastus, it
is my hope that Alex will grace the world with wonderful auras and
beautiful flowers and that together, they will prove that nothing, not
even the forces of nature, can destroy a spirit.
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