Friday, September 19, 2008

Magnolia bombs

Our back yard has two large magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora if you are curious) & when they are both in bloom & the air is humid & heavy, it is overwhelming.

Now the blossoms are over & the seed heads are dropping & I can no longer sit in the swing underneath the northernmost tree. When those things fall, they make quite a clunk.

The taller of the two trees is in the yard next to the emu yard. I have seen it drop bombs on unsuspecting birds & that can be quite a show. Emus, while birds, do not observe the world in many multiple tiers (they pretty much have only two levels of observation: standing & sitting). They rarely leave the ground (& then only in ungainly, loquat-grabbing leaps). They do not look up.

& so when magnolia bombs fall, only the impact registers. One moment everything is dandy, the next a large, velvety-&-yet-somehow-prickly pod is resting in the divot it just made in your abdomen. That's right, the sky is falling.

The dogs have learned to listen for the rattle of the leaves. I am fairly certain they can even tell where the bomb will come down; I cannot, hence the avoiding of my favorite swing. Sometimes, though the dogs will run towards a landed bomb, expecting something else (perhaps a chicken, perhaps an egg; yes they will lay eggs while high upon a perch).

With all these bombs, we have never had a single seed sprout. I am told this is not unusual. Our neighbor had a tree that did not even flower for years (it had, interestingly enough been the result of the single seed that did sprout from a tree in her father's yard). Finally, one year it made one blossom. We lauded it. She pressed the flower & I soldered it between two pieces of glass to enjoy for years. Now it flowers like all the others; many bombs but no seedlings.

I do not know what it is about magnolia that makes them so reluctant to reproduce; I only wish they were so careful with their reproductive organs. Seriously, how would you like to be knocked unconcious by someone else's ovary?

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