May 25th, 2002

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mimosa trees--loving the invaders

I love to see the mimosa tree (I tried to post a link, but the mimosa photo I found at www.invasive.org transmuted into an odd tree beetle by the time I'd linked it) in Spring. The mimosa is a curious ornamental tree. They have gorgeous pink blossoms, and branches filled with cute green, almost fern-like leaves. The problem is that this plant I really fancy is politically incorrect. Mimosa trees *don't belong here*. They come from Iran or Japan or Australia or other places which are not north Texas.

In our area, hosts of weekend morning AM radio garden shows have an importance roughly equal to that of priests in chic arcane faiths or authors of really hip and fashionably obscure 'zines. The patter is warm and familiar ("Ma'am, they sold you THAT? That doesn't grow here, that grows in CANADA! That'll DIE here! Take that right back to Home Depot and get yourself a nice Yaupon Holly. Y'all have a good weekend, now", or "Q. I just moved here from New Jersey and bought my first home. Now the tree leaves are all dying". A: "Ma'am, it's September, and in Fall, the leaves...."). The books of holy garden text written by these spirit guides have no kind words for mimosas. Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor, frankly terms them a "junk tree". Neil Sperry, the "Texas gardener" can't wait for them to die off.

Apparently, mimosas are short-lived in our climate, beset by ailments and pests unique to mimosas, and generally regarded as a misplaced fad. Their blossoms and car paint do not interact perfectly with one another. On the other hand, another invasive plant, the crepe myrtle tree from China, is seen as a beneficial plant, to be planted wherever an ornamental tree might fit. It comes in all sorts of cool leaf colors, and blooms virtually all summer long A nearby town, McKinney has pledged to plant 100,000 of them. Immigrants with marketable skills always get the better end of the stick.

I am "down with" the native plant preservationists. Here in north Texas, we have wonderful natives, and our curious "too hot and dry in summer and a couple of hard freezes in winter and by the way, the soil is a really harsh red clay" growing areas provide sustenance for only a limited number of plants favored in other places, anyway. But I say Save the Mimosa Trees. The mimosa to me is dozens of front yards during my small town boyhood. The mimosa tree is pink blooms, and huge long seed pods. The mimosa is our little oasis of exotica. Sure, it lives fast, and dies young. But when I see those pink blooms in Spring, it's as if a mimosa has eternal life.
  • Current Music
    Cricket song--is that from the Sound of Music?
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Riding Blackjack

We took our friends and their 21 month old to a farmers' market today. There was a petting zoo, and a pony ride. Our friends rented a fifteen minute ride on Blackjack, placed their daughter on the saddle, and we began to lead the pony past all the petting zoo pens filled with kid goats and lambs and somewhat indignant chickens. Shetland ponies can be temperamental, but Blackjack
walked the paces like the sort of champ who can carry a 21 month old being braced into place by a watchful parent. Bella, the child, was on her first pony ride. She was far too wide with wonder to express a like or dislike or fancy about the experience. She was at one with the pony (or she was thinking about chocolate, or what have you--can't claim to be the proprietor of the Psychic Toddlers' Network). It's a bit tried and true to miss that sense of wonder, but I do miss it, a little.
I remember pony rides on ponies both placid and unwelcoming.
Cheap metal cowboy guns, cute felt cowboy hats, boots which only lacked "real spurs". I remember being 10 or 12, in a county fair, where they turned us all loose in a corral full of calves, to try to pluck dollar bills from the calves' tales. My mother has a picture of me at 4, on my first date as consort to "Little Miss Sunbeam", in a "pageant" in tiny Sparkman, Arkansas (pop. 300).
I remember looking at distant nebulae on a cheap plastic reflector ordered from Montgomery Ward's catalog for a really big xmas gift.
I remember being a young teen, being thrown from my grandfather's old horse, the delicious thud of an unhurt body bouncing on the ground. My old friend to whom I wrote an unwise e mail about long ago soap operas wrote me that she's riding fierce horses near her rural place in Virginia. I have no real desire to go to the nearby Frisco Horse Park and plunk down the 25 dollars an hour for
a trail ride, but there's a little part of me that wants to treat everything I do like a gentle ride on a quiet horse.
  • Current Music
    post-ambient quiet (naptime for child)
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that Texas thing....

Stting in the family steakhouse, watching a dad 2 step on the dance floor with his 4 year old, dwelling in the spaces in time before they come and make us ring cow bells over our heads and then cut our cheap neckties, watching the child across the way clap after the song about how livin' in big cities is confusin', I realized that no matter how much I reeled back in revulsion at the mix of blues and c & w and saccharine western pop that haunted my childhood, it is this world, rather than the progressive and post-punk world into which I thrust myself and now live, that is my true spiritual home....I'm not sure if I'm raging in heaven, or resigned to hell, but I know that Fort Worth sometimes crosses my mind.