Sunday, October 18, 2009

#35 Honey Locust

Seven or eight years ago, I was at a homeschooling get-together at a park, and while I was talking to Dave Martinez, I was gathering seeds, just for something to do. I knew what the seeds were. When I was a kid, in elementary school, there were honey locust trees in the SE corner of the school yard, and that was a great place to play, when I was in 5th grade, and 6th. That's where I was when President Kennedy was assassinated. When the bell rang and we went to the nearest stairs to line up to go in after lunch, the teachers had tears in their eyes.

In the spring we would take the beans off that tree, split them lengthwise, and pull out a part that was between the kernel and the hull. They were clear and a little gummy, and shaped like pretty fingernails. We would stick them on our fingernails. They didn't stay long, but it was fun to imagine we had beautiful long fingernails. I don't have a photo of that, but will try to arrange to have a little girl model next year.

In fall, the seeds we couldn't reach would fall, and they made a great noise inside the pod, and we'd break them out and play with them.

I took those seeds home and planted them. I have trees nearly as tall as the house. Here's a fall photo, taken today:

Here's one from summer a year ago:

The close tree is the honey locust. Here's how it looked against the sky:

Honey locusts aren't high-class trees. They have thorns. They make more mess than shade. But for me they provide good memories of times spent playing when I was ten and eleven. I remember sitting under one of those trees and talking to my friend Martha about my parents planning to vote for Johnson. Her dad was going to vote for Goldwater. We knew it was somehow important that Kennedy had died and the next two candidates were from Texas and Arizona. Things were not going to stay in the northeast anymore. (And from New Mexico's point of view, Illinois and Ohio are quite-a-ways east.)

The first year I taught, I was in a portable building in the same place where those honey locusts had been ten years before. It seemed like longer.

Wikipedia says the wood of the honey locust polishes really well, and that posts made of it don't rot very quickly. So if we get tired of these, Keith can make something out of them!

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