Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Which I Palm Off on You a Variation on a Requested Theme.

This post is for Theme Thursday, for which the topic this week is “palm”.

Note: The pictures which illustrate this writing are in the newer post above this.

In Which I Palm Off on You My Variation on the Requested Theme

We do not have palm trees here----

May I palm off on you, the special species, our native myrtle?
Umbellularia californica.
Half-opened-billowy-umbrella shaped:
A broadleaf (not needled) evergreen tree.
It almost always grows in even form, rounded, without being pruned to shape.
A shade tree, pleasant to sit under in summer;
Keeping the landscape green in winter.

Its leaves are simple and flat, leathery, dark green.
I take color crayon rubbings to show their ribby lines.
But the most distinctive leaf feature is not shape nor color, but its pungency.
Some people can’t stand to mow their yards which have thickened
With dead, gradually fallen mutter of brown leaves,
Because the aroma when leaves chopped or lacerated is so strong.
(The myrtle’s near relative, the bay tree, furnishes leaves for pickling or flavoring.)
Some entrepeneurs have distilled from aromatic leaves a perfume.
I never cared much for its scent, myself.
But little vials of the stuff made a good tourist grab.
The wood of myrtle, hardwood strong with patterned grain, became transformed
By careful craftsmen into many a gentle piece of gorgeous furniture or smart knicknack.

The bark is chippy-rough, with many a seam. Distinct, tough, patchy.
How great is the flow of scrawly texture.
Myrtle flowers, waxy off-white, unshowy clusters -- slowly grow into nuts.
Peel off the punky outer husk (walnut-like) of nut, and within lies a hard smooth roundy shell.
But inside that shell, the firm nut flesh is acrid-bitter to the taste.
A handful of shucked brown nuts would fill my palm.
The pioneers used to fatten their pigs on myrtle nuts.
I guess the Indians (now called Native Americans) soaked and leached them until edible
(a last resort when other foods were scarce.)

But artist that I am, I found another use for myrtle nuts!
For every nut has a “nose”. A doll-sized nose.
(Isn’t God clever with his endless statements of variety in Nature?)
And thus, with a little time and my creativity a mini-doll may grace my palm.

I’ve wandered far from palm tree theme Thursday.
But besides our hands (palms for accepting or giving alms) --
and date-palm trees -- and palming-off magician’s tricks or shoddy stuff, or in my case,
substituting what seems a better thing instead of the Thursday theme –
Dash with me into my own familiar realm (of myrtle trees in the yard beyond my palm-hand).
And if that’s not enough, there are always psalms to say,
And thoughts of other palmy balmy beauty things.

Copyright © 2010 by Marilee Miller
By all means link to my post, but please ask permission to copy for public viewing.


  1. Oh, awesome write! Can't wait to see the pictures...

  2. I really enjoyed this, and think I need one of these trees in my yard.

    Love this line: "Isn’t God clever with his endless statements of variety in Nature?"

  3. ha. dont mind the palm off as well...and thanks for walking with us through those trees with such elegant descriptions...very nicely played. happy tt!

  4. I always loved the way you found those little noses and mouths and gave then pixyish eyes to match. They are one of your mast wonderful creations.


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