Thursday, April 28, 2011

It Would Have to be During my Century, Yes? YES! or How the Agave Plant Made me Cry

When I cannot write for a while, not only do I miss you, but I feel as if I am leaving you wondering.  I begin to experience "Blogger's guilt" a term that I just aptly came up with to describe the loyalty which I have come to feel towards my readers, including the ones whom I have become friends with, the ones who pop in only infrequently, and even the anonymous readers who have never left any comments.(I would love it if you would de-lurk for a moment just to say hello, but if not, that is okay too unless you are my long-lost aunt;))  There has been a lot of minutiae going on lately, both large and small, and whenever I sit down to write, it seems that something commands my attention and I am whisked away from my laptop in a whirlwind of sudden commotion.  This past week has been Passover for our family and while preparing our Seder for twelve or so people last week, our ceiling sprung a leak meaning NO water for most of the day until nearly the time when our Seder was supposed to begin, at which point my dear husband tore out a portion of our kitchen ceiling locating the leak and completing a good portion of the work for the plumber who then stood in my kitchen and quoted me $468.00 while I stared at him as if he had a third eye knowing that I was in serious need of a hot shower before our guests came.  His final remark, "Well, dinner smells good, anyway."  Would you like me to pack you a Tupperware along with the $468.00 that you are about to rip me off for too???  How about you pay me for the time I spent solving the issues you are having with your pre-teen children, hmmmm?  On the same day, my constant companion, our dog Becca, lost complete use of her hind legs and had to be brought to the Vet for X-rays only to find out what we had suspected all along.  A portion of her spine is no longer viable and she will never regain the use of her hind legs.  And even though we have known this has been coming on for quite some time(She is 12 and 1/2 years old), it is a very bitter pill for me to swallow.  Everything else is healthy about her and so, from now on anytime she needs to move around, be it changing positions or going outside to the bathroom, one of us must completely support her rear legs by roping a towel underneath her belly and letting her lead with her front legs.  Believe me, I am not complaining because she is still around and she is still my best bud, but it just hurts my heart to watch her lose her mobility.  We are researching different options that will make it a bit easier for me to help her move around.  I know that they make "wheelchairs" for dogs, but unfortunately, that would not be a practical solution for our old girl.  So, I do my best to anticipate her needs and she does her best to communicate them.  We have been together for so long that we communicate telepathically.  And then there was the miserable realization that I have been manipulated by someone whom I had already washed my hands of, years ago, but who managed to do it again with me as a willing volunteer this time.  If I told you who it was, you would not believe me(and it might break your heart, too), so let's just chalk this one up to my extremely soft heart and move along.  No regrets because I can never regret anything I do out of love and empathy.  Never...

But none of that is what I came here to write about today.  It just explains a bit about why I have been slightly distracted lately.  It also helps to explain my Blogger's guilt.(You never call, you never write...)  Here is what I really wanted to share with you.  Leave it to nature to put things into amazingly clear perspective.  As you know, for the past several years, we have resided more than half of the time in our beach house.  And on the corner of our lot overlooking the Pacific, there has always been a rather large cluster of prickly plants which our gardener labeled as Agave plants.  They resemble Aloe plants but the tips of their leaves contain very sharp, thorn-like edges that really hurt if you happen to brush by them by mistake.  This plant is also extremely prolific in that it produces "pups" or baby Agave plants on the paths all around it.  Instinctively, we began removing the pups because the mother plant is so extremely large that we did not want to have our yard overtaken by the little pricklers.  A couple of weeks ago, a giant, very phallic, asparagus-like stalk seemed to sprout from the center of this plant overnight.  It seemed to go from invisible to ten feet tall before we even noticed that it was there.  When my husband began to refer to it as "the penis plant"(yes, leave it to a guy;)), we decided that we not only needed to photograph it, but that we needed to research what the heck was going on with our Momma Agave plant.  And so, I began the Google search.  Turns out, there are several subspecies of Agave plants many of which make lovely ornamental additions to a western yard.  This one, however, not so much.

What I discovered about our prickly Momma plant and her pups is that she is an Americana Agave, also known as the Century Agave.  The leaves, if broken open, release a highly toxic, highly allergic type of substance which will burn skin upon contact.  This is not a rash to be messed with as it will blister and can last up to a month before healing.  We did not know this when removing the pups from the pathways.  The other thing, and this is really the point of my story, is that there is a reason that this plant is called the Century Agave.  That asparagus-looking thing in the center which none of our neighbors have ever seen before, will eventually flower and put on an amazing show for us.  BUT, after the stalk dies off, it will take the Mother plant with it and in its place will be left a huge mess that is nearly impossible to remove once dead.  It is recommended that once the flowers on the stalk begin to die off, the stalk, which is very thick and very coarse, be sawed off and removed.  That will hopefully preserve the life of the Momma Agave plant.  The interesting thing, of course, will be the removal of the stalk without having anyone come in physical contact with the inner goo.  Therein lies the fun.  One must wear protective clothing and protective goggles in order to safely handle this type of plant and even then, who knows?  Now, this is the part that fascinates me beyond comprehension.  The Century Agave only flowers once a century.  That is once every 100 years or so.  Remarkable.  Truly remarkable.  And when I stare out at this Agave plant, I cannot help but basque in the wonder that someone, 100 years ago or more, pulled that baby out of the desert and planted it right here on our bluff.  Not knowing that in 100 years, we would be sitting here looking at the very same plant as it puts on a spectacular show.  100 years.  Who knew?

Nature certainly has a way of putting a spin on how infinitely small we really are in comparison to so much of what is around us.  And as I gaze at the Momma Agave and her maturing pups, I cannot help but relate to her in so many ways.  I mean, here I am, and here are my babies ages 17, 19, 21 and almost 24.  When someone meets their children or their children's children in 100 years or so, will they somehow sense the spirit of who I once was and how those individuals made their way into this world?

Above is a picture of our yard which was taken on February 24, 2011, only eight short weeks ago.  See the Mother Agave plant in the background of the picture?  No stalk visible at all.  Now the stalk reaches way up into the sky like Jack's Beanstalk in the children's story.  Only this one took 100 years to reach its glory up toward the heavens.  And soon enough, it will be gone.  Which is why the daily stuff does not matter so much to me anymore.

Love to you.


Patty Ann said...

Oh, I have seen these and you will so love the blossoms when they come out. They are beautiful. I hope you get some help getting rid of the stalk though. I would not like to be burned myself. Thanks for all the information today. It was great reading. I think your home looks like an amazing place to be.

Blue said...

It has been my observation that *most* bloggers I follow tend to start out with really frequent posts, at least a few a week, and then over the years, they sort of taper off...with great gaps between posts. This is true in almost every case in which the blogger hasn't monetized their blog. If they're blogging for dollars, they keep going strong, but I noticed that *I* tend to get bored and unsubscribe from them. Fact is, their daily lives just aren't profound enough to bother reading every day. No ones is! I'd much rather read an interesting insight, experience or observation here and there, than sift through pictures of their entire lives laid out for the internets. But I'm weird that way :-)

So anyone still on my blogroll after all this time is A) not likely using ads on their blog, B) not running contests and give-aways and other methods to attract more readers or comments (I ♥ comments, but they're a poor reason to blog and a poor substitute for healthy self-esteem), C) Not posting super often...just when they have something meaningful or worth saying or sharing.

Not that every post has to be filled with enlightenment. I like seeing the kids growing up, listening to their latest and greatest and peeks into regular life. But the daily bloggers get old for me.

It goes without saying that the flowers need to be blogged when they come...right?! :-)


Tracy said...

Good Morning Dear...thanks for your e-mail while I arose again thinking of you and glad to hear that while life is stressful you continue to see the beauty in life. It does have beautiful moments even in the most difficult of times; or at least I try to see those to get through the struggles.
Hugs to you and I'm here with you in my heart...

Renee said...

I always enjoy your perspective on seems to bring me back into balance when many other things and people (including myself) do the opposite... Life is all about love...and how we see it. I did not know this about the Agave plant..fascinating and fun to learn something new.

Kathleen Botsford said...

All I can say about your "pipe" issues is, Isn't it Mercury Retrograde??? It felt like it here too! I love how your story is about once in 100 years.....weren't we just talking about this at lunch???? How short our lives on this planet are and in 100 years none of us will be here??? EXCEPT the Momma Agave!! How Cool!

LauraX said...

Oh Deb what a story! I'm so sorry about your pup...our ellie had surgery this past week to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament...but she is now hopping about well on three legs and in a few weeks the fourth will touch down...but your poor baby...a very different story.

The century plant is a bizarre miracle. I look forward to seeing photos when it blooms and reading the story of how "she" is castrated...oh my.

The photo of Jack next to the place where the agave bean stalk was yet to sprout is beautiful. Such a sweet, sweet soul he is.

I pray for him throughout each day...he is never far from my thoughts and forever part of my heart as are you dear one.

I too have been experiencing blog my case I have been posting...but not so good about responding or visiting others...the good news is I've been more active off my computer...but I do miss my blogging hello my friend...I've missed you too!

Mickey (Michel) Johnson said...

nature has a way of reminding us of where we stand doesn't it? don't let not blogging on schedule overwhelm you with has its season like everything else. take care and hug those angels! xoxo

Neil and Susan said...

Mickey is right, don't feel any guilt. Sometimes life has a way of interrupting us with important reminders of what is of real value at the moment. You have a big heart Debra and there will always people who take advantage if this. Its something we just get used to.
I find living on the sea very healing. It is a great place to be and feel the soothing nature of time held still. What a wonderful place for you to be. Enjoy yourself! Susan xoxo

Angella Lister said...

If I were that Momma Agave, I would definitely bloom for you! The intelligence of the universe is awesome. I hope you'll post pictures of the flowers, too, dear friend. Love.

RottenMom said...

I agree with what Blue wrote above me. Don't feel guilt, just know that when you decide you have some time to write, I'll be here reading.

I am in awe of your yard, on the water, amazing.

Keeping Jack in my prayers as well.

Have a beautiful weekend. XO

Jacque Ferreira said...

What a great time for me to drop back by! I have been having blog "readers guilt", not checking in on some of my favorites and now I so remember why you are one of my favorites. Beautiful post, I am familiar with the Century Agave and have alway found their story so amazing. There are many amazing things in the world around us if we are paying attention. Wishing you well ~ Jacque p.s. we bought our house at the ocean last Oct. my dreams are all coming true :)

Mark said...

Happy Mother's Day!
Your New Friend, m.

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