Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Mango

After our mango tree lost all of its flowers to a freeze last January, I cut the branches back and the tree flowered a second time (by lucky chance), giving us about seven mangoes that are nearly ripe now.

The Mango seems decidedly foreign, with its tropical leaves that come in first a copper color before turning green. We certainly didn't have trees like this where I grew up in Arkansas or where I lived in Arizona. When viewed from a distance, the U.S. seems segmented like a typical arboretum, with the tropical trees located next to the cactus room, which is followed by the orchid room and so on, producing such a great variety of plants and music and food and opinion and culture and people that the concept of we might be an illusion for all practical purpose.

But get a mango tree out in the open and surround it with other plants and it fits in nicely. Diversity and contrast produce balance and beauty, disrupting our tendency to extend the concept of us-ness to the extreme, something of the sort found in some political thought and in people who claim, for example, that they know what it means to be an American (and that they are it).

I do not doubt this mango's intent--it will overshadow and consume some of my favorite plants if I don't keep it trimmed back. Left to it own intent, the mango would surround itself with other mangos and block out the sun completely.

Some of us (like me), left to our own intent, are not very social, preferring to stay home and work in the garden and pursue our narrow self-interest, but we remain interested in big picture and how we fit in it, hoping that the future will fit within our sense of balance.

I've always liked this song.

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