Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tree of heaven

I am supposed to come to my office to work, but I am so mad at Fabrice today that I can't do anything else unless I have ranted here frist! 

Why am I mad at this guy?  Because this man thinks that he is the God thus no need to apologize for any of the mistakes he makes, even when such mistakes affect others profoundly!  

What did he do this time?  

He did not listen to me, which led to the loss of my food tree!  

Here is the thing.  I am a Chinese and we Chinese love to eat!  One of things that I love dearly is aromatic leaves of the Chinese toon tree.  It's Chinese name is 香椿 (xiāngchūn) whose tips can be harvested in Spring and early Summer.  I only ate them few times in my life because Xiangchun is not farmed in the place where I grew up You know most of us Chinese love ginger, garlic and cilantro?  And you know most of the italians love parsley and French love province herbs?  Well, toona leaves charm them all.  The 
flavor is so special that makes my mouth watery even just typing the name down. 

Alright, now, given this introduction, can you imagine how happy I was one day when one of my colleagues asked me in a small voice whether I would like to have some of her home-grown Xiangchun tips.  Was she kidding?  It's been over 20 years that I had not had any of this delicious food!  The day I first chopped them in the kitchen, Fabrice was drawn by their exotic and distinct smell - this is why our marriage still strong,  the French man loves food as much his Chinese wife!  He was curious and doubtful though when he had his first bite of the stir-fried eggs with Chinese toon, but he soon swallowed the whole plate - again, this is why our marriage lasts.  I am a typical Chinese wife, that is all I am saying.  

Ever since I discovered that Fabrice fell in love with Xiangchun, I have been trying to grow some of these trees in our yard.  

The first time I had a small tree from the friend who offered me the leaves, I asked Fabrice to put it under the ground.  But the man left it at the deck and only planted when the weekend arrived few days later.  The poor little tree did not survive.  The second time when she gave me another one, I 
immediately took off and went back home to plant the precious tree in the middle of our small garden at the corner of our house.  When Fabrice came home, he said, "it's ugly to have a tree in the middle of the garden."  So, the man moved it to the other side of our house.  One week later, it was gone.  We did not know where it went but from what's left there (an empty hole), we knew the tree did not just die.  It was removed by someone, most likely by our neighbor.  At this time, I felt bad to ask my colleague again for one so I ordered/purchased a small tree online from a Chinese Garden.  When delivered to our house, it was only a stick, looking dead.  Followed the instructions came with it, I carefully soaked the stick in the water for 2 hours and then dug a big hole to bury all the roots inside it.  Indeed, when Spring arrived, leaves had grown out of the stick and I was happy imagining the year after that, we could begin to harvest the delicious food (we were instructed not to nip the tips in the first Spring).  Disappointingly however, the tree fell into a deep coma.  This Spring, we saw nothing new growing out of the brunches.  

Sadly and shamefully I went back to my friend asking for another one and promised her not to lose it this time.  She happily gave me 3, in case you lose them again, she said.  But I had become quite confident in my ability to take care of it, so I generously gave one to my close friend Ling, another to a colleague of mine and then kept one myself.  "Now," I said to Fabrice, "choose the good and safe location for it this time so that our neighbor won't get rid of it again."  I said to Fabrice. 

He decided to plant it in our front yard so that it would grow tall to cover the "ugly electric pole".  "It's too close to the neighbor." I complained, "They will have it removed again once they see it."  "No, they won't.  It's so far inside our yard, they cannot come to our land to dig it out."  Fabrice responded.  

I don't know what's wrong with him and those electric poles.  Fabrice cannot stand electric poles.  For this very reason, we had very hard time to find a house in the district that we wanted to live.  We settled in this one because it is on the side and out of our sight.  He planted some flowers around the pole then found that was insufficient to cover anything.  So when he got a chance to have a tree destined to grow tall, he took it.  

Reluctantly I agreed, mainly I just did not want to argue with the God.  I had carefully watched it for a couple of weeks and happily found it kept growing quite fast.  This time, we should have delicious food in no time, I told myself.  We are having plenty rain water this year and that helps a lot too.  After having made sure that it survived, I began to forget about it.  Today, Fabrice suddenly decided to provide the fast growing little tree a support.  So he went to the tree with a stick and t
he only problem was the tree was nowhere to be found!  

"Did you move the tree somewhere else?"  He asked me, with the stick in his hand.  
"What do you mean I moved the tree.  What tree?"  I asked.  
"The Chinese Toona"  He answered.  
"What, you mean we lost the tree again?!" 

I went to location and found nothing.  The yard was covered by grass as if nothing had been planted there.  

Our tree was deliberately removed by most likely our neighbor, again!  

I was furious.  I was so mad at Fabrice for not listening to his wise wife!  This guy has grown into such a proud person that I can hardly stand him anymore.  Our relationship worked so much better when he was a baby long time ago!  

After having made a big fuss about Fabrices' unbearable non-apologetic behavior, I hid myself in the office and wrote this post.  The man made me lose all my alone time.  If this grant that I am working on will be not funded again, it would be all his fault.  

Sure he cared about the little tree too otherwise he would not have thought about going there to put a stick to straighten it.  However, his love for Xiangchun is clearly not enough to make him listen to the love of his life.  

Alright, now it's time to analyze the situation.  As Fabrice said, "You should not blame me for this.  You should think about why the neighbor keeps removing it."  He finally agreed to my diagnosis that the tree most likely had been removed by our neighbor.  He had not thought so when 
the tree mysteriously disappeared the first time although he could not come up with any good explanations. 

A good listener does the following: 

I went online and found out why my neighbor keep removing my beloved Xiangchun.  Do you want to know?  

He must have thought that we are having the "tree of heaven" in my yard!  

My guess is that he must have confused our trees with those stinky and invasive sumac - they look identical!  In fact, I have seen few of those trees on my running tracks and even harvested some one day to give them a try.  They has some distinctive smell too, except it's quite far different from the enchanting smell that Xiangchun gives out (hence the name "chòuchūn 臭椿" for Stinky Spring).  Their young leaves taste extremely bitter too.  

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