Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Avocado Tree Climbing Adventure

June 28, 2011 – Avocados

It’s warmer today and for a brief while I unzip my jacket and hope the sun does manage to break through the cloud cover. It doesn’t. I stayed up too late for several nights in a row and I can’t keep on task. I read for a while. I put down 44 words of a short story I’ve been mulling over in my head. Then I erase half of them and write another couple sentences to bring my word count up to 45 words. I don’t normally keep such exact count of the words I write, but a one word advance in a story seems a small thing. Today I’m just not seeing clearly into the world of my imagination. I go to get some tea and by the time I get back to my computer I forget I wanted to look up information on the Nazca Lines. I stare at my computer thinking, “What was I going to do?”

Rats are dying in the roof of the main house. I think one is already dead because I can smell the poor little carcass as it decomposes. I’m not going to make an ethical stand about this for now; all I can say is that they’re killing off the rats to keep the roof and in the meantime the little victim is stinking up my office.
Tea in hand, I abandon my computer and the dead rat and take my book and go sit at the table by the pool, willing the sun to come out. Winter has a greater power than I, and the sun stays concealed.

I’m reading Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent (fittingly enough with regard to winter). The book starts out in a more or less omniscient point of view and then about chapter four it switches to a first person narrative. I’m curious to see if the story comes full circle and ends again in the first point of view. Maybe Steinbeck is going to kill off the main character Ethan. I’m ashamed to say I have no clue what this story is about. I’m learning the tale as I go from page to page.
There is one avocado left from the last Great Avocado Harvest and I’m planning on eating it for my afternoon snack. Now seems a great time to climb the tree again and get some more paltas (that’s Peruvian for avocado) down.

I go grab my bag, braid my hair (which is extra frizzy today), put on my Vibrams and go evaluate the tree. I look for just the right spot to work from. When I was a kid I climbed trees all the time. My sibs and I climbed everything really; trees, fences, rocks, family members. We scaled the inside brick wall of our den with our dad after we watched Spiderman. Dad was always coming up with the greatest games. The Spiderman game tested our agility, strength, grip, and bravery. The point was to scale the entire length of the wall to the door, cross the door’s opening by clinging and inching the way across the jamb to the other side of bricks where the staircase was and then worm from brick to brick until you reached the stairway ledge (which was halfway up the wall between floor and ceiling). If you stood up on the ledge you won the game.
All that to say, I have some climbing experience. I usually climb barefoot for better toe grips, but today I want to test out my Vibram Five Fingers.
More or less ready with my hair pulled back and my shoes on, I tuck in my shirt and zip my jacket up all the way. The tree itself is pretty dirty. I’m notsure exactly what is all over it. I see some parrot poop here and there, some spider webs. Then! There up above my head are some terrific bunches of avocados. Some of them hang way out from the main limbs and I’m not sure my weight will be light enough to inch that far out. I find a spot I think I can reach and using the old Three Point of Contact advice I learned from my eavesdropping on Boy Scout rock climbing tips, I make my way up the tree.

The first time I went up this tree it was a little scary. I hadn’t climbed since I was a kid. Not much anyway. I just haven’t had a lot of tree or gate climbing opportunities in the past, oh shall I say, fifteen years or so. But by now I’m accustomed to the height and know better how much weight these limbs can handle. I find a good branch and scoot out as far out as I can. Then I reach up to grasp a leaf. I pull in the branch and snap the stems that hold the avocados to the tree and toss my catch into the bag.

I’ve got about eight good ones and I’m contemplating getting down. But then I see it. A fat one. I want that avocado bad (Or badly, if I’m thinking more grammatically). I lean out, I adjust my spot on the branch. I lean out a little more. I’ve almost got it. Don’t tell my mother, or my grandmother, but perhaps I’m being just a little more daring than I should be. It’s a really tremendous avocado. The branch doesn’t let me down, literally, and I do get that much coveted avocado. I place it in my bag, string the straps over both shoulders like a backpack and make my way, using three points of contact at all times (at least 8 times out of 10), down the tree.
Now the trick will be waiting for the avocados to hurry up and ripen so that I can eat them.

I love you avocados.

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