I have contemplated writing this blog for a long time but feared it too controversial.
Today I found myself under sprawling apricot tree branches, each heavy with fruit in all stages of ripeness. Feeling the awe that comes whenever I am lucky enough to find myself in such magical spaces, my eyes kept falling to my daughter. Her hands skillfully wielded a fruit picker, plucking the choicest of fruit. I would catch glimpses of her smiling up at one of the women nearest her as she bit into another golden delight.
This is for her.
And for every other little girl who will bear the weight of a decision made without any of them in mind.
And it is for the women who have been canaries in the coal mine, telling us this day would come.
Today is the day I write.
People proudly show me their budding fruit trees each year, dreaming of the fruit she will soon produce. As I listen, I look at the tree, often no taller than myself, and ask, "How old is she?” Often the answer is only a few years old.
I love this moment. I feel like the Lorax of Fruit Blossom Abortion, speaking for the trees, advocating for their health and longevity.
“We must pluck the blossoms! We must pluck the fruit when the trees are young!” We Must.
Transplanting a tree is a difficult transition time, in which it will spend much time healing from the trauma of the move. It is why fall planting is encouraged–it is less traumatic, giving the plant the best chance of survival. The tree sends all of its energy to the roots during this transplant period to take hold and establish itself.
Each following spring, trees produce buds, which turn to fruit. However, people do not often realize that it is to the tree’s detriment. Its energy is channeled entirely into creating that fruit. When a tree has been allowed to grow healthy roots, has weathered various storms that strengthen branches, and has had support and care, it is then ready to fruit and produce.
Just because a tree can produce fruit does not mean it is the right time. Just because we want fruit does not mean a tree should bear it. It is selfish to ask this of our unprepared trees.
When we allow young trees to fruit too soon, energy meant for the tree’s growth will be diverted to the bearing fruit. This inhibits the potential core strength of the tree for the entirety of its life. When a bumper season comes (and they always do), the weight of the excessive amount of fruit will break branches. These broken limbs can leave gaping wounds, allowing bacteria and viruses to enter the core, drastically weakening the tree and potentially causing its demise.
It isn’t just the young trees either. We see it with older trees, too. There will be seasons in which the leaves aren’t vibrant, or the fruit is consistently sub-optimal, particularly when a tree produces year after year after year. It is too much–the tree needs to rest. To refocus. It’s time for her steward to step in and shake off every last spring bud and fruit, allowing her to rest and regain her health and vitality.
Like the trees, healthy humans require time and care to build core strength. We should never be forced to carry the burden of fruit being borne too soon or in the wrong season of our lives. The idea of celebrating the fruit, even at the cost of its mother, does not create an abundant nor healthy world. It creates a world of struggling trees, broken branches, and death.
To truly love and honor the fruit of each season, we must first love and nurture the trees which give their everything to bring it forth into this world.
We must speak up. We must pluck the blossoms. We Must.