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December 3

The Magic Guava Tree

Today's blog is a little fairy tale of sorts, only it is not a "once upon a time" type of story. It is a current events fairy tale. When Eunice, Isabella and I first moved here in 1993, one of the trees we bought that summer for the front yard was a Pineapple Guava tree. Another was an Ein Shemer Apple tree. These two trees, in particular, have remarkable properties.

When I was growing up in Riverside, CA., we had a Pineapple Guava tree in our backyard, which had many fruit every fall. From eating those fruit, I developed a fondness for Pineapple Guava trees and their fruit. Unfortunately, my mother had the tree cut down at some point and replaced by other plants. Thus it was that when I moved to Moreno Valley, I was happy to have the chance to buy a Pineapple Guava tree. We planted it in a nice spot next to the driveway, while the Apple tree we bought the same day, I think, was planted in the front yard about 20 feet away from the guava tree. Guavas are generally tropical fruit, and the climate here is too cold in the winter for most kinds, and also, so dry that it is difficult to keep them hydrated enough in the summer. However, Pineapple Guavas are more cold hardy, and hardy in general than other guava species, so they do fairly well around here. Meanwhile, the climate here is too hot and dry in the summer months for ordinary apple trees, and does not have enough really cold weather in the winter for them, either. However, these two trees have produced fruit remarkably well every year since we got them, almost as though they were blessed with some sort of special powers.

Before Eunice and Isabella went to Taiwan in August, Eunice expressed her disappointment with the Guava crop this year. After all, she could not see many of them. I reassured her that there were plenty of them there, but just how many, I was not sure. Pineapple Guavas bloom around late spring, and the fruit ripen in the fall. This spring, the tree had a profusion of fleshy, white flowers with red stamens. I even ate several of the tasty flowers, figuring that would not hurt the Guava crop, and I turned out to be correct.

As it turned out this year, the Pineapple Guava tree has gone into overdrive, just when I have been hit by various unexpected expenses and misfortune, and just in time for the return of Eunice and Isabella from their trip to Taiwan. Actually, the tree started bearing fruit early this year, back in September, and continues bearing fruit later than usual, even now in December (including another 12 so far today, and this has been a slow day for them). It is almost as though the tree knows that we have been unfairly hit by economic circumstances not of our making which are draining our money. Meanwhile, the Apple tree continues to bear fruit, as well, even though it is supposed to only have ripe fruit around August. Instead, our Apple tree consistently has 2 sizeable crops per year, one in July-August, and one around December.

There is a caveat to this story, but it is also part of the story. For those who are not familiar with Pineapple Guavas, they are totally green fruit, much like Avocados in that regard. They are a medium shade of green even when ripe, never changing color, making them dificult to distinguish from the tree's green foliage. Thus, it is difficult to assess a crop of Pineapple Guavas while they are on the tree, since they are most difficult to even see. It is also difficult to know when they are ripe, so the usual method of harvesting them, unlike other fruit, is to wait until they drop off the tree. Those fruit which have dropped to the ground are definitely ripe. Thus, while Eunice and Isabella were in Taiwan, I would check the ground under the tree every day for Guavas, then I would eat the day's crop. This way, I had no need to buy fruit from the store. Every day, there would be another 10 or so Guavas on the ground. Some of the Guavas were extraordinarily large, around 1/2 pound and 5-6 inches long, although most were normal little fruit around 3 inches long and an inch in diameter. Also, some of the Guavas, especially the larger ones, were overripe by the time they fell to the ground, and thus were turning brown inside, instead of the whitish color they should be -- but no problem; there were plenty of good ones to eat, and the peels and the bad ones, I tossed out in the vicinity of our Dragon Fruit Cacti which are also growing fruit out of season at this time. About 10 days before Eunice and Isabella returned from Taiwan, the number of Guavas falling to the ground increased to around 20-30 per day. At that point, I decided to stop eating them, and save them in the refrigerator for Eunice and Isabella. Within a few days, I had a large bowl full of them. By the time Eunice and Isabella arrived here, I also had a plastic bag full of them. The day they arrived, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving, I put the day's crop in a small bucket, which I completely filled with Guavas that had dropped to the ground that day. Once Eunice and Isabella were here, they began happily eating the fruit, as did I, a sort of Thanksgiving treat. By the next day, the bucket would be about half empty. That was no problem. The next morning, I would go out in the yard, and fill the bucket again. That pattern has continued to this day. The "Magic Bucket" remains full of Pineapple Guavas from The Magic Guava Tree.

Of course, I know that it is not really magic. I know that the Guavas have been growing on the tree all along, but it seems as though they miraculously materialize out of nowhere. I also know that soon, the crop will diminish. Today's smaller crop is an indicator of that. However, it seems as though this tree is blessed in some special way, as is the Ein Shemer Apple tree, from which we have eaten about 7-8 ripe apples since Eunice's return from Taiwan. It is a difficult thing to describe or explain, but we have a special, blessed feeling about certain things, a feeling of whose validity we could not convince skeptics. We have had the same feeling about Gorjilina our female cat, and Smurfull our stray male cat, which have survived while others have perished or disappeared in this difficult neighborhood. It is as though they know, in a way that others fail to comprehend, how we love them, and it is as though they are guarded and nurtured by some power beyond ours. Thus, we consider our Pineapple Guava and Ein Shemer Apple trees in front of the house, and our cats Gorjilina who usually stays in front of the house, and Smurfull the stray who patrols the neighborhood but frequently returns to his adopted home, to be special blessings. Whether or not certain creatures are truly blessed in ways that others are not, by the powers of the universe, I cannot really know for sure, but it seems that way with these individuals. My mother says that she talks encouragingly to her plants, and they respond by doing better. There was actually a scientific study published recently, which found this to be the case. It seems they really do know that we love them. Perhaps there is a spiritual connection among all lifeforms. Perhaps some plants respond to our thoughts and feelings more than others (plant intelligence?), and perhaps, some have special help. At least, this topic gives us "food for thought."