Monday, September 29, 2008

The Olive Tree Suffers to Live

I just called Steve Kukar. He saw the olive tree. Like a doctor who has terrible news to tell a patient, he delivered his words as softly and as gently as he could. The olive tree is alive, but it is suffering. It will always be crippled.

It is like the Grail King. Only a miracle could heal it in full. Yet even then it will never be whole again. It is crippled and aging. It shall never be a young tree again. It is too old, and too frail to recover to what it once had been. The lightning-scarred central trunk and canopy will never see glory days of youth again.

The term for the green I saw is called “latent growth.” Steve was very bittersweet as he explained. There will be a “little puffball,” as he described it, but structurally, the tree will never be able to healthily recover its trunk and limbs. Not like a new, healthy tree.

When you have latent bud, the new growth is not strongly attached. This growth is coming off the cambium layer. The shoot-offs will grow so far, and then have a tendency to fall off. The structure of such a tree can never be very strong.

These latent buds are caused when you make a drastic cut. The tree, in desperation to live, shoots out its last growth. All the other tissue above the place where I saw the green growth is dead. Thus it will struggle to live. To keep getting a little bit stronger, but never will be a strong tree.

Eventually, Mountain View Forestry will opt to take it down. To replace it with a new, healthy tree. So, for now, treat this tree as entering the “hospice” stage of its life. It is not dead, but it could be dead and gone any day.

Fortunately, we treasured the spirit of the tree in photographs and video. It is not a figment of my imagination, or, I suppose, an olivement of my imagination, since it is an olive tree, not a fig. Franklin and Harshi saw it. Steve saw it too. Perhaps you will see it before it is gone. Sit against its trunk so it knows it is loved and will be loved after it is past.

As a final note, congratulations to Steve. He’s now the new Park Supervisor for Mountain View. Best wishes, and thank you for checking in on our gentle, patient olive tree.

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