Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Little Loquat That Could

In the garden behind my parents' house, there grows a loquat tree. It's been there since the summer of 2005, I'd guess, when I moved out of Isla Vista and spent a month at home before I headed to D.C.

the little loquat tree

Aside from photos and some hazy memories, this loquat tree constitutes my best memento from life in the Pasado House, that backyard wonderland that served as a setting for so many of my college stories. I have a few smaller artifacts, of course — my bamboo lamp, Space Potato — but they all exist in Santa Barbara, where still haven't removed my life all that much from Isla Vista. They somehow don't mean as much as this tree.

The parent loquat didn't even grow on our lawn. We were the "B" half of a duplex; the "A" half had this pruned-to-hell monstrosity that hung over the driveway and occasionally littered it with rotting yellow fruit. I'd seen the species elsewhere — on every block in Isla Vista, and occasionally downtown as well — though had I ever heard the term beforehand, I would have thought a loquat were more like a kumquat than an apricot. I lived at the Pasado House for nearly six months before someone pointed out that we could eat those yellow fruits, before they hit the cement at least. The front neighbors didn't seem to care that we picked the fruit, though I remember them regarding us suspiciously as we filled grocery bags with loquats twice a year. (God bless that year-long Santa Barbara County growing season.) We'd wash them. By and large, I'd eat them, spitting the smooth pits into the garden. I probably consumed a year's worth of potassium in a single harvest.

The Pasado House backyard had room to spare, and the longer I lived there, the more I made dangerous vegetative experiments. Some yielded fairly Frankensteinesque results, but others thrived, including a single loquat potted pit that quickly sprouted leaves. That, I'd estimate, happened no later than Spring of 2004, because the sapling had damn near exploded its pot by the time I brought it to Hollister.

Since going into the San Benito County soil, it has survived two sheep attacks, as well as seasonal frosts it wouldn't have encountered had it remained near its original home. Nonetheless, it's well on its way to full-fledged treehood and will probably grow fruit in the next few years. Though I only see it on the rare occasion I travel back to Hollister, I realized over this last Easter there that I'm glad for that. I probably won't live in Santa Barbara forever. In fact, I doubt I'll be living here even a few more years. But I don't foresee my parents leaving Hollister in the near future. Even on days when I can't imagine ever missing Santa Barbara, it makes me happy to know that I have one of my fonder memories of this place now firmly rooted at my childhood home.

God, I can't believe I let myself use that pun, but I honestly can't think of a more appropriate phrasing.

two and a half loquats

A small footnote: It helps, I guess, that I have memento doppelgangers here in Santa Barbara. As I mentioned before, loquat trees are everywhere, possibly as a result of some landscaping trend that happened to bypass my hometown. I see no less than three loquat trees on the walk to work.

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