Tree Seed Season: A Million Bursts of Life

Life muscles on, fights to propagate, to reproduce itself.  It won’t take no for an answer, even when that no is the pavement and asphalt and more people than the city hardly knows what to do with.  Life’s insistent shout echoes in mid-spring’s hallways, its signature written time and again on sidewalks and along gutters, its produce hanging heavily from trees.

A new tree in every bundle

You can see it by looking up, no not to heaven, but to trees.  This is the season when they produce seeds like crazy.  They are visible  now, some getting ripe after their blossoms dried up and blew away like little bits of torn paper.   Most arrive without fanfare,  seeds growing from branches by the thousands and thousands.  This week, walking to work, I saw piles of little round seeds, half inch, paper-thin flying saucers with a tiny seed in the center, heaped along the sidewalk, in the gutter, along the edges of grassy lawns.

Like snow to be shoveled, the multitude of seeds

How energetic and virile of trees to produce so many seeds.  How sad, I suppose, that few, if any, in this manicured part of town where I work, among many federal buildings and near the National Mall, will ever sprout, grow and become a tree.  What delights me is that almost every tree is producing seeds, performing this annual exercise.  It’s like the world around me is inundated with potential, with life.  I look at all of it and am inspired.

Cloudy, puffy, balls of life

I love the process.  I love the possibility.  Each seed contains what it takes to become a  tree, yet even in the wild, how could so many new trees all survive?  Thousands and thousands of seeds produced by every tree, they must know what a long-shot life can be, how tenuous a seed’s chances are in this wild world.

Many tufts of brown/
Lying on the ground

These seeds are, for the most part, not very noticeable, yet there are millions of them all around.  How funny, this subtle invasion arriving in camouflage.  They are not brightly colored, the trees bearing them arrayed in splendor like cherry blossoms or tulips.  This multitude of potential new life comes in shades of tan and brown, green or dirty white.  It would be easy to think, by the time you step over piles in the gutter, “What a mess these trees make.  Shouldn’t the city send a crew over here to clean this up?”  I like that the trees quietly push on, doing what they’ve done for years, decades, some even centuries: sending the germs of new life out into the world.  I also like discovering or at least noticing something really big that’s right under my nose, yet easy to ignore or take for granted.  Like I stumbled on to some big secret.

An almost invisible invasion

The secret is this: no matter what, life wins out in the end.  Pavement and concrete aren’t the final word.  This message is all around, crying out to be heard.  Right now, it’s hanging by the truckload, seeds in a thousand trees.

About literarylee

I sling words for a living. Always have, always will. Some have been interesting and fun; most not. These days, I write the fun words early in the morning before the adults are up and make me eat my Cream of Wheat.
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