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Along my constitutional this afternoon I undertook what I will now label the “Mile of Horticultural Abomination” - a housing development of a couple years back in a wanna-be upscale Southern California type of neighborhood (I believe the term is “aspirational”).
I found myself muttering “wrong”, to myself (yeah, the kids probably think I’m just a dodgy oldster) as I observed lot after lot - all trying to look “nice” but with the most absurd combination of plants. And those that weren’t necessarily horticulturally absurd still spoke loudly. What the landscape was saying to me was a cacophony of “here’s what I saw on the cover of some aspirational magazine.”
Popular combinations were of exotic palm plants (they are not trees, btw) with short growing grasses (think golf course greens). Yeah, looks like a resort … but is totally out of sync with the inherent nature of the famous “Avocado Belt” in which I live. Native California grasses are adapted to extreme ranges in precipitation (9 months of no rain, 3 month wet season), and these lawn-type of grasses need to be watered every week, or even more frequently.
I saw not one, not a single fruit tree among the hundred or so houses in this development. This contrasts sharply with the old (some a century old) neighborhoods in which I walk, which still have plenty of citrus, avocado, loquat, etc.
Indeed, there were not that many trees planted at all. I guess trees just take too long - they are not “instant” plants but statements about life and the long term.
The attempts at low watering landscapes - while perhaps more nobel in intent - were often planted with a mixture of too many different types of plants - and a favorite was putting in a rose plant or two among the mess - roses need lots of watering in this region.
And so on. Some very weird combinations among these new houses with faux-porticos, symbolic “porches” which are only 2 feet deep and useless for sitting or gather, etc.
So, what does this have to do with Herman Cain? Well, probably a lot, down deep. Humans, that’s you and me, are part of this world (said the Hobbits). Yet Herman Cain and his followers’ worldview have humans outside of the eco-system.
It takes time to learn about the world around us - to observe, to read about it from authors who have gathered years of experience and study and who perhaps have collated centuries of plant and animal wisdom written by others from the past.
It’s a very human thing to do - to think we are so special and different and that our whims should somehow matter to the rest of the universe.
But they don’t.
And that is one of the important lessons of life.
We as a nation will (and are) learning this anew - that the real world will, eventually, impinge upon our fantasies. Even Herman Cain won’t be able to avoid that one.