Thursday, February 19, 2009

Throwing rocks at rainbows

I've been throwing rocks at rainbows lately. Well, small pebbles actually, and aiming to miss. Our almond tree is just outside the study door, and the rainbow lorikeets which ravage our pear tree every year recently decided to balance out their diet with almonds. So every half hour I run out and chuck a few pebbles into the tree, which encourages them to hop over to the native fig until I go back inside.

It's ridiculous. I live in an inner suburb and am surrounded by concrete. We have no nature strips; our footpaths are bitumen just like the road. And here am I asking beauty to move right along.

I don't mind birds eating the pears. In fact, I'm prepared to sacrifice any number of pears to the sight of a dozen lorikeets hanging there, flashing blue and red and yellow. I'm thrilled to watch the parents feeding the juveniles, and the teenagers mucking about - in the pear tree. But the almond tree is special. It's my tree of hope. It flowers in the depths of winter, at a time when I can't bear the grey days any longer. The flowers are impossibly delicate against a slate sky, and remind me that spring is coming.

And the almonds go in our breakfast cereal mix, providing a daily reminder of God's abundance. Every now and then I have a moment of awe, and extreme gratification, when I remember that I am eating something that grew, with so little care, in our garden. It's my intimate connection to the world of fertility and growth, so easily ignored in a concrete jungle. I need this sign of hope.

So until I pick the almonds, I'll be throwing rocks at rainbows, irritated by the parrots and by how much I care. And I'll be thinking about what else I could grow, and where I could fit it, so that I have more opportunities to harvest goodness from the soil. And maybe next year, I'll invest in some bird netting.

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