When my last full time occupation fizzled out, I went for long walks because staying home for too long left me feeling claustrophobic; breathing in the fresh air felt good and the sky did not hem me in. I had a variety of routes but my favorite included a street called Sunset a few blocks away. I don’t suppose it matters that growing up in Mayfield Heights, Ohio we lived on Sunset Road. This Sunset is a winding asphalt road dipping at a slight angle before turning, leading uphill to loop back around with enough of an incline to test my endurance. There are no sidewalks, only a narrow gulley running along the road where rain water runs off. The street is lined with a number of tall old trees. Early in my acquaintance with this neighborhood I was entranced with the Buckeye, Tulip Poplar, Walnut and Evergreens that took me back to California with their majesty.
A lady in the house where one of the Buckeye trees grew was washing the glass in the storm door when I stopped by and asked if I could collect some of the buckeyes when they fell. She said yes with some amusement. When I actually did come to pick what I could carry from the lawn, the lady next door came out to chat and said I could take them all and there was another tree around back. One year she and her husband took me for a tour of their large and sloping backyard which was like a park.
Some of the neighbors were curious about what I would do with the buckeyes so I confessed that I tossed them into vacant fields hoping to grow a few more trees. I really feel we do not have enough trees and if there were more, there might be less flooding during the rainy seasons.
One time when I was walking onto the tow path, a couple of fellows on bikes came whizzing by and one called out, “There’s the buckeyes girl!”
It isn’t just buckeyes, I cannot throw out the seeds from an apple or pear core, a peach, cherry or plum pits. I let the seeds dry out then set out to disperse them when I am called to go walking. Last year my friend Hennie was saying her husband was tired of raking up the acorns from their backyard trees. I’ll take them I said. She gave me a plastic bag with about ten acorns and I said I could really take them all. They gave me a big plastic tub which he carried to the trunk of my car. I gave them back the empty tub when I had done the job a couple of weeks later.
I have picked the long “cigars” we called the seed pods of Catalpa trees as kids, and found hickory nuts – two more lovely trees not seen in too many places these days.
After reading The Purpose Driven Life some years ago, I about drove myself crazy trying to figure out what my purpose was and Hennie said my purpose was to disperse tree seeds. So when the time comes to plead my case at the pearly gates, I’ll have to say my last job on this side of the box was, as an artist in California calls me, Seed Caster.