Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Baobab Tree -- Forty Lives Interrupted

The baobab has a scientific name -- Adansonia digitata. I used to see it in Botswana and Zimbabwe and Malawi -- in the low, hot country. It won't grow in the highlands, not near any hint of a frost. I used to take photos of baobabs. Other people took pictures of giraffes and lions, but I love my trees too much.

I grew a baobab from seed, when I lived in Zimbabwe. It was a foot tall by the time we left. Who knows? It is barely possible, but it might still be there where I planted it. In the back yard of our rented house at 23 Shottery Crescent, in the suburb of Southwold, in the city of Bulawayo, in the province of Matebeleland.

I was a bold gardener to plant this tree. A baobab will not grow naturally in Bulawayo, because of its elevation, over 3,000 feet. It gets too cold there.

So maybe a frost has killed my baobab. Maybe the new tenants at 23 Shottery Crescent didn't like it. Maybe they cut it down. But I don't know for sure. It still might be there, and that was eight years ago. It might be 15 feet tall, and it might be in a sheltered spot where the frost won't touch it -- because we humans can often grow trees outside of their natural range, with a little care.

If you're a good gardener, you give your new plant tender care, but after a certain point, you need to have faith, you need to turn your back and walk away, you need to believe in what you planted. I left my small, might tree behind that way..... The photo shows how big they can get, in a 1,000 years.


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Krista Richards Mann said...

I just read this to my daughter at breakfast. She likes to plant orange seeds. One time she planted the unpopped popcorn kernals, and they grew. We loved your story and your picture. Thank you. Thank you. Good morning.

Anonymous said...

Forty Lives is good, but I like the African stories better.

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