The Frangipane Tree in the Garden
The ongoing cycle of life
The Frangipane Tree in our garden.
About 40 years ago this beautiful flowering tree stood tall and proud outside our house in East London. Every summer it produced fragrant white flowers at the end of its green leaf covered branches. The birds loved to visit and perch on the branches. To feed on the insects that lived on the bark of the tree. At night moths pollinated the flowers. Our children climbed into the tree to explore and have a photo taken. Yes, its branches were not very strong and so when too much weight was applied they broke, but no-one was injured and it provided shade and entertainment as well as beauty to our back garden.
The Frangipane is a flowering tree from the tropical areas in America and provides scent for the manufacturing of perfume. It comes in a variety of colours and does well in our sub-tropical area. Ours provides white flowers with just a tinge of yellow. In Hawaii women often wear the flowers in their hair. The side that they wear the flowers on indicates if they are married or not.
Then disaster stuck. During torrential rains the soil turned into a muddy morass and the wind blew the tree over. There were some tears as this tree was so much a part of the scenery. At the same time while this tree was now lying on its side some of its roots still remained in the ground and so rather than remove the tree we decided to wait and see. Eventually we developed a flower bed around the exposed roots and the tree continued to blossom and grow even in its semi-reclining position. It gave support to one side of our clothes line and we used it to hang a birdfeeder from its branches. A new generation of children climbed in and hung from its branches, and birds still searched for food or just perched there.
Last year the Frangipane started to die. Some kind of fungal disease started to attack our beloved tree. A visit to the local nursery for advice provided a spray to rescue the tree but did not help. About half of the tree was cut away and removed to the local garden refuge dump. This year it seemed to be recovering and the blossoms looked healthy at first. Then the dreaded fungi attacked again and it looks like the Frangipane is now on its last legs. A new diagnosis and spray is not helping and it seems as if the illness is terminal. Our old friend is no longer going to be around much longer and will be relegated to memories and fading photographs in our family album.
Life is much like this. As we grow strong in the early years we are able to supply the world with some value. Like the sweet smelling aroma from the Frangipane flowers, we have the potential to make the world a better place. We provide support for others and even some joy and adventure. Nothing seems to be capable of destroying our strength and power. Yes, as the storms of life blow we sometimes have to bow and bend. When the storm has passed we shake off the damage as best we can and stand tall again and move forward.
At times we, like the tree in our garden, may even fall over but if our roots are strong we will remain, if only for a while. The cycle of life however must continue and as a tree eventually returns to supply nutrients for new growth we too have to move on. As humans we face the diseases that bring an end to life. Heart attacks and cancer threaten to destroy that which at one stage seemed to be indestructible. The leaves wilt and the flowers fall to the ground. The body can no longer support the weight of expectation of self and others. The medical solutions come and go and extend the time of living, but then like the Frangipane tree we finally have to say goodbye.
The place where we lived, grew and produced, is filled by new life with different flowers and aromas. What we did is also relegated to the land of memories in the hearts and minds of loved ones and fading photos in the same album as out tree. It is time to plant a new tree in our garden with hope and faith that it will provide beauty and support to future generations, and perhaps a branch to tie our new washing line on to.