Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Almond redivivus

The bees in the almond blossom this week, my happiness levels; there's definitely some kind of correlation. Serious noxiousness has been going down at work (not directly affecting me for now, thank goodness, but affecting people I respect and love and an institution I care about), and while obviously the presence of bees in almond blossom has no impact whatsoever on that situation, it's been palpably good for my coping capacity. I watch those bees in that blossom -- they're like pigs who've happened upon troughs full of strawberry sponge cake, you can almost see them growing fatter -- and it's instantly clear that despite Christopher Pyne and shitsome redundancies and friends having to take stress leave, life goes on, in all its blossoming flower-pillaging superorganismic splendour. (While I'm acknowledging my animal-companions-cum-psychotherapists: a special thanks to euphoriator-in-chief, Beatrice Cat, who celebrates the new dawn by sprawling across my torso, putting her arms on either side of my neck, and kneading my pillow. Truly, there's nothing more life-affirming that a loving whisker up the nostril.)

So I paid a twilit visit today to the almond trees, for the health of my heart. There were no bees, of course (bees are sensible people who go to bed at sunset, and earlier still on chilly Winter afternoons), but I did spy sprouting out of the ground underneath one of the trees a small horde of what I thought were almond suckers. I don't need almond suckers, so I tugged one up, and lo!, it wasn't a sucker at all, but a seedling.

Almond seedling with almond still attached.

I'm guessing that when the cockatoos ransacked the perfectly just ripe almonds late last January, they dropped a few on the ground, as they do. The Winter came, the rain rained (not much, grr), the soil got cold and then warmed up a little bit, and hey sprongo!, six little almond seedlings all beneath the canopy of Messrs. Almondo Nonpareil and Carmel. (While we're on the subject of birds and seedlings, one thing I do so love about herbivorous birds is the way they farm their preferred crops by sowing the seeds - usually in a nice packet of highly nitrogenous fertiliser - all around their habitats. Farming doesn't require tractors and pesticides; we just need to eat the fruit we like and then fly around pooing out the seeds. While this is not yet our national agricultural policy, I am planning to illustrate my theory with flowcharts and send it to the Hon Barnaby Joyce, MP, whom I'm sure will appreciate its elegance.)

Six little almonds, or only five, now that I've torn the taproot on the little 'un in the photo. That's five potential almond trees more than I have room for, but I'm nonetheless contemplating a pretty darn thrilling experiment in almond-rearing. Seedling almonds are risky as food plants – their fruit might have a higher cyanide content than grafted almond varieties – but if all goes well and my seedlings survive in pots, I'll be able to graft scions from my two trees (next Winter, I suppose) and then rehome these almond babies in someone else's garden and/or in an inconspicuous spot on public land (hoorah!). 

This also makes me happy. Thanks be to last year's bees who pollinated the flowers that brought these seeds into being, to this year's cockatoos who so generously dropped them on the ground, and to all the lovely microbes in our good Lalor earth who tended to the seeds in their ineffable microbial way.


  1. The 'small things' are huge in my world. They make my heart sing and often sustain me. Not to mention giving a level of protection against the 'big things' about which I can often do nothing.
    Keep revelling in growth - and cat hugs.

  2. Just last night I read an account of planting new hedgerows in the UK: you take some posts and some rope. Stick posts in ground in Spring. String rope between 'em. All summer long, birds perch on ropes and crap. Next spring, neat lines of hedgerow seedlings sprout between poles. Genius!

  3. And what about the pulled-up almond with the damaged tap root? A bit of TLC (glass of water, kitchen windowsill praps) and it may have a new lease on life, no?

  4. Ah, Kate D, too late, I'm afraid. I stuck the poor wee seedling in the compost, and it's too far gone for resuscitation. Now that I know that all you have to do to grow an almond tree is drop an un-de-hulled almond on the ground, I may have gotten a little cavalier with my volunteer almond seedlings.

    Livebird, that is completely excellent. 'Course, if you did it round here, you'd get a fabulous line of blackberries.

    Elephant's Child: yep, it's a good survival strategy. My one proviso (for me, not you) is that because I sometimes have big things that I *can* do something about, and because I find it easier to pot up almond seedlings than deal with big things, and I need to be careful not to let the joyful easy work substitute too much for the hard, unrewarding but important work. Blah blah self-moralising blah. Anyway, I agree: thanks, world, for sustaining small beauties.