The hitchhiker

My tendencies toward sentimentality are usually limited to the art and written productions of my child and (on even rare occasions) picture postcards sent from anywhere to me by anyone. But I have lots of attachment to the hitchhiker on my kitchen windowsill, a hitchhiker that Bob rescued and placed there, obviously from some sentimentality of his own.  We need to get the hitchhiker into a tiny box frame to aid preservation. And soon, before the aforementioned child is here for spring break and, in his usual tidiness, believes the object of our sentiment to be mere trash and pitches the hitchhiker into the green waste bin.

Well over a hundred years ago, a greedy landholder or three replanted newly deforested hills in California with fast growing eucalyptus, believing that they were replenishing a resource from which they’d make ongoing quick bucks.  Trouble is, eucalyptus wood makes lousy lumber.  Worse, it catches fire and explodes.  And worse worse, it can take over, not quite with the vigor of kudzu but pretty darn thoroughly.  After the horrendous urban wildfire along the Oakland-Berkeley Hills, in 1991, some serious replanting got underway, with an eye toward eradicating the misplaced eucalypti, but there are still hundreds of them in the Bay Area, often as street trees.

We had one giant of a one in front of our house on MLK until about two years ago when a very rainy and windy winter had it leaning so precipitously that David Lance Goines himself called the city public works and told them to get it out before it crashed into Fred’s bedroom window.  Public works listens to Mr. Goines and the tree came out that morning.  He and his assistant, Richard (who, according to Bob, makes fantastic apple pie), replanted immediately, a little ginkgo which they assiduously watered and maintained and probably still do.  I never thanked him properly for saving either Fred’s life or at least our second story window.

So I am not sentimental about this transplant from Australia to the California landscape, although I do love the smell, especially on a sun warmed breeze when I’m up in the hills in Tilden and the scent is mixed with dirt instead of concrete.  And except for Bob’s hitchhiker.

The hitcher is one desiccated eucalyptus leaf that Bob found amid the boxes unpacked from the van by the movers when all our stuff arrived here last July. He named it the hitchhiker.  He put it on the windowsill.  He’s saved it again and again as the sill’s been dusted and the window repaired. I think the leaf has earned its place more permanently.  Not sure why.  Only sure that.  That’s the way of sentiment.

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2 Responses to “The hitchhiker”

  1. carole leita Says:

    Lovely! Please post photo when framed.

  2. Marg Says:

    Just back from Australia today. Lots of Eucalyptus and sleepy Koala Bears within.

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