The Pod Mahogany

In November 2020, a couple days before Jess and I got married, my aunt came to visit us at my parents’ home in Plett. She had her granddaughter – also Jessica – in tow. Together, they delivered a large wooden box and a tree sapling.

Within the box, there were many cards, with messages about love and timing and grace and a child waiting to be ours. There were also dandelion seeds and porcupine quills and the distinct red and black of pod mahogany seeds. Many of these treasures came from Londolozi, where I spent the first year of my life.

The mahogany seeds were from a tree that my parents planted in what was once their garden. My father brought seeds from an impressive tree he saw elsewhere in the Kruger. Thirty years on, their tree (my parents’ tree) stands at an impressive height now.

At my cousin’s wedding, as one of the rites of passage before their ceremony, she planted, with her soon-to-be husband, a sapling grown from the seed of my parents’ pod mahogany. Those of us privileged enough to be at the wedding had a chance to throw soil on the roots of what would grow into another beautiful tree.

The sapling that my aunt brought to the Plett house that morning also grown from the seed of my parents’ pod mahogany. Kneeling alongside the box of treasures and the sapling, I cried.

The sapling came home with Jess and I to Sea Point (where we lived then). I went out to find a pot fitting enough for the tiny tree and placed it in the shade of our outdoor courtyard.

When storms came – and they did – I would run out into the rain to bring the pod mahogany inside, and then take it outside again when I deemed it safe. I did the same when strong winds came. I needed this tree to grow; to survive. As we underwent egg retrievals and IVF treatments, I watched it carefully. Not much happened. Some new leaves grew but then fell off quite soon after. I worried.

Last January I came home to find it had more than double in size. This year, on returning home, I find that, again, it has thrived in the heat and the neglect, doubling again, outgrowing its pot.

A fiddle leaf fig in a pot outside didn’t fair as well. Caterpillars got it. Big hairy ones that chomped on the leaves that took so so long to appear. What is the fiddle leaf fig doing outside, you ask? It is, after all, unaccustomed to such conditions. There is a hierarchy of fiddles in our home. Only one – the grandest by far – claims a corner in the house, in our room. I’m happy to report she has one new big leaf.

Kit ‘watered’ the courtyard pots this evening, mimicking her grandmother, but there was no water in the watering can. Tomorrow I shall give the garden the real deal.

This is to all to say, we are home.

Photograph of the day: Jess’ side-table lamp reflected in the window against the bougainvillea. Also, below, the bougainvillea, without anything stealing its thunder.



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