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Compelling the Wintry Sun

Updated on February 23, 2014



Both plants and animals hunger

for sunshine this time of year -

if my baby cypress and I are

typical examples.

I’m seeking the sun myself whenever I can.

I’m also moving my newly acquired baby

cypress tree from window to window in an

effort to capture for it the best amount of

direct sun possible. It’s a challenge on days

when there is no direct sun, so that it must

be located in whatever filtered grayish light

trickling through a window or glass door.

♣ ~ The best I can provide it.

How it all began ~ a Christmas gift of a baby cypress tree!
How it all began ~ a Christmas gift of a baby cypress tree! | Source

I was thrilled with my daugter's gift! Directions instructed to water it when received, which I did. The florist box included miniature ornaments and lights. Only the ornaments were added to it. In the middle of my cluttered coffee table, where I placed it to enjoy, are no power outlets. Throughout its Christmas stay there, it received admiration, no sun or water! Hal, my nephew, a student of horticulture, asked if I'd thought about giving it sun. I had not, beyond squeezing it in among other plants near some window, with scant light.

♣ ~ But thus began my odyssey of serious cypress-care!

John Denver - Sunshine On My Shoulders

In Your Memory

The flower

Was planted,

Seemed to flourish

But the sun and the roots

Both were missing.

One by one

The petals


_____© Nellieanna H. Hay

Basking in morning sun.
Basking in morning sun. | Source

Obviously in nature and the scheme of things, those evergreen trees must endure and survive many wintry days with little or no sun! So I can learn some patience and wisdom from this little green ‘person’! It’s a whole new experience for me; well, at least it’s new in that I’ve not yet snuffed out its life! My history with fussy plants is not too bright . . . no pun intended!

This is something of a confessional!

It’s not as though I’ve never noticed evergreen trees in winter, bravely surviving the limited sun, but I must confess that their endurance and courage didn't impact me personally.

♣ ~ They just did their thing . . .

and I did mine . . .

. . . No more!

- as closer to noon approaches

With the arrival of this cypress, my maternal tree instincts were stirred. What an education for someone whose ‘green thumb’ long has been limited to plants who are not fussy about how much or how little sun and water they get.

When my non-fussy ones start to droop, I drown them in the sink so excess water filters through their soil and out the drain. I realize that people who do have green thumbs are cringing, but the plants perk up when happily returned to their places in such limited light as enters through windows with low direct light, as most of mine have. These hardy survivors have no complaints.

Now, though, I learn that the cypress not only requires its sun, 'direct', but also dislikes overly-much watering. I normally love fine-tuning. Here's my chance!

I must heed its plaintive outcries with greater sensitivity, even as I'm trying diligently to sun it and fathom its water preferences!

♣ ~ Becoming a reformed Brown Thumb!

Mother would be proud! ~ ♣

Brown Thumb

The garden I planted

Has rows that are slanted.

They look as though

Planted while drinking.

To have planned more,

Which seemed such a bore,

Now seems an advantage,

I'm thinking.

Those little plants grow

In a pitiful row.

Like unloved orphans

They stand there.

The weeds closing in

Where furrows had been.

Won't someone please

Lend a hand here?

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Catching the late afternoon sun.
Catching the late afternoon sun. | Source
Winter Solstice - Northern Hemisphere in Winter
Winter Solstice - Northern Hemisphere in Winter | Source
Summer Solstice - Southern Hemisphere in Winter
Summer Solstice - Southern Hemisphere in Winter | Source

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This material is protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from Nellieanna H. Hay.

© 2014 Nellieanna Hay


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    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      3 years ago from TEXAS

      I appreciate your visit, m'dear Maita! Hugs.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      3 years ago from US

      Very nice home, brown thumb.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      4 years ago from TEXAS

      Haha, Mary. That poem was written from actual experience, but at least I saw the humor in it! Thank you for the great comments and votes! :-)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Nelliana, not only can I feel your brown thumb but you had me chuckling at your planted rows and the weeds closing in. This entire hub has your sensitive touch.

      Voted up, useful, funny, awesome, and interesting.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      4 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank you, Audrey - for stopping by and well-wishes. Hope you are doing well, yourself! I'm doing well, though extremely busy with some TDLs (tiresome details of living), some business details, and generally keeping it all somewhat in balance!

      I'm still thinking about Fall and hoping it will actually arrive to linger awhile. We've had some see-saw weather for over a month but no real periods to sink one's teeth into and get into the feel and mood of Fall. I'm in short sleeves with neither A/C nor heat, but another day I may have donned my sweats and be under a throw, avoiding starting up the furnace. September was a record-breaking low-rain September and October may easily end up a record breaking warm October, with rain only in vicious storms. The grass is still green, the leaves on tree are mostly green, so you can imagine how difficult it is to get into the pumpkin and Halloween mode! No doubt, it will move suddenly into wintery weather. If so, that will be OK. ;-)

      Glad you enjoyed these verses! Thank you!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      I hope you are doing well Nellieanna! I have been thinking about winter lately--wanting to see the rain I think--beautiful verses

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      4 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank you. But sadly, my little cypress just gave it up. I'd replanted it in a larger pot and tried to give it the right amount of sun and water, but it was not happy and finally just gave up.

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 

      4 years ago from On Planet Earth

      This is so beautiful i love your house to, can i move in :)

      Thanks for sharing

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Such a lovely, poetic thought, Deb. Thank you for coming by and sharing it!

      Just discovered your hub about my own White Rock Lake, almost within view from my home here in Dallas. :-)

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As we move through a season of sleep, the growth will once more begin the beguine.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Faith, - thank you, dear heart. Yes, I’m enjoying pampering the little cypress. I’m like a new mother with it. I notice a few brown fringes on tips of some of its tiny fronds and I panic. It seems to be on the side which I may not always get turned toward the sun when it’s sunbathing. The other side has nary a speck of brown. So I’ll be more careful to turn it.

      I’m still debating whether or not to plant it in the yard. It would have to be in the back yard, which is more northerly oriented, and may be harsh for the cypress when we get the ‘northers’ as we’ve been getting this season. It may just end up in a large wheeled pot which could travel to and from outside and could serve as my live Christmas tree each year.

      But I would also like to see it stretching to its full height from the ground. Decisions, decisions! But if I don’t get it going to a really good start, there will be none!

      It’s about time it's transplanted from the plastic pot (set inside the Christmasy red & silver bucket) to a more commodious pot and more soil. Should have done it on one of our balmier days, but there will be some more coming up, I think.

      I appreciate your visit! Hope your new year is progressing nicely, too.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Nellieanna,

      What a delightful hub here and thank you for sharing about your new beautiful little one to care for and it will thrive under your care, even with the brown thumb! I love Cypress trees and they are hearty and so beautiful in the midst of winter, still so green and beautiful. I have a couple of them in my yard.

      Love your photos and poetry between your delightful story.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Happy New Year sweet lady,

      Faith Reaper

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Genna. So glad you came by! I’m fully aware that your wintry weather and even the angle of the sun up there are quite more wintry than mine down here. But I guess is a matter of relativity. I lived for a year in Tempe, AZ, arriving there from Indiana mid-afternoon in August in our non-air-conditioned car in a temperature of about 112F or more. By ‘winter’, when it got down in the 50s, we felt the need for our Indiana winter clothes! This launched my theory that folks who live in hot climes have thinner blood and feel cold more readily, and contrariwise, folks who live in cold climes have thicker blood and feel heat more readily. In fact, in Del Rio, TX, where I was born and grew up, we wore fairly warm winter clothes, though temperatures virtually never reached freezing and snow was nearly unheard-of.

      My little tree seems to be adjusting to his new home and thriving. I’m learning his preferences, so we’re faring well together. Still, I’m happy to hear that his stock is a hardy lot! I want him to grow up proud and strong.

      I love that Denver song, too. It does seem to fit. Thank you!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Nellieanna…

      This lovely hub is so timely given the “brrr” temps we have experienced lately, as we look for the sun in each day. Your lovely cypress tree, this “little green person,” now has its own delightful odyssey. They are a hardy tree, and yours will do well under your guidance, Nellieanna. Denver’s Sunshine melody was a beautiful complement to this charming hub. :-)

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Theresa, thank you so much. I’m pleased that the difference in poetry and prose was detectible. I say that because I’ve noticed some kinds of writing called poetry are almost prose except for the short lines. I started with the spaced brief lines of prose in a left-side capsule beside an image on the right, then continued that visual effect for the following, in a left-side capsule for the next bit of brief prose! The other prose capsules are less spaced, however. But, especially since my prose tends to be lengthy, I wondered if anyone might mistake the brief forms for very ‘free’ poetry, which it’s certainly not, lacking ‘rhythm’ of any kind, which I think my poetry usually exhibits. ;-)

      I’m also a green lover. (Did that sound right?) Growing up in a rather semi-arid part of the country, I truly believed heaven had to be a green place! Del Rio itself, where I was born and spent my early school-years (summers at the ranch), is something of an oasis in the desert, watered by an abundantly flowing, perpetual, natural spring. Later there was made a gigantic deep lake in canyons just outside of town. It is called Amistad, meaning Friendship, because it is partly in Texas and partly in Mexico. The dam itself is actually an International bridge. But all the surrounding countryside - and all of my ranch - are truly semi-desert. So my impression of verdancy was like being something extraordinary and wonderful. It’s just too bad that my ‘thumb’ followed more the surrounding area and less the oasis!

      Your mother-in-law and my mother sound like sisters in the green thumb family! Mother could start a plant from any bit of its parent’s DNA, & she loved to give these starts to people who could kill an established plant, much less something so fragile. I consider myself a nurturing person and love plants. - I try, but all too often, I’m just not able to coax them to maturity, try as I may!

      I love arranging and caring for cut flowers and seem to be able to extend their waning lives further than most can, but a couple of years ago, decided to skip vases of cut flowers in favor of live plants which would supplement the oxygen in my domicile. So far, those I brought in then have survived, though the first one nearly bit the dust. I’ve discovered that they are peace lilies. I had fully killed one of those which was given to me earlier, but I decided to try it with a couple from the grocery store. They’ve bloomed - but only at the beginning. That’s OK - I wanted them for their greenery and healthy-oxygen expiration! So I feel fairly successful with them by trial and error! When I was able to restore that first one by the drowning technique, I adopted that as my M.O. Since then, I’ve read that they ‘tell you’ by drooping when they need water! My kind! A communicative plant!

      Immediately, I went to Home Depot, bought a roll of light screening, cut squares a little larger than the bottoms of my double sink, in order to prevent whatever soil came out the bottom of the pots along with the deluge of water. I reassigned my unused cake cooling racks to the project, to keep the pots’ bottoms off solid surfaces while they drained. It’s the routine now and for all this time, it’s worked for those plants and a few others with similar habits! But if someone gives me a plant that has other ideas about proper care, I usually manage to either drown it or let it die of thirst waiting for the sprinkling or the deluge. I’m trying to learn the signals, though, so I can better judge when and how much watering a plant really needs to flourish. Never too old to learn, they say! ;-)

      Maybe we need a series on 'Plant Care for Dummies' ? haha. I’d follow it eagerly!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh, DDE - Thank you. Yes, they are both beautiful and admirable!

      In Del Rio, Texas, where I was born and grew up in my early years (and still visit), there are quite a few of those tall skinny cypress trees - so majestic and lovely.

      My little tree truly is full of life! I'm so proud of it! Today it’s in the sun in the morning window, basking away, but just about ready to be moved to the mid-day location in front of the glass door!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Nellieanna - I love this essay. I love the movement back and forth between poetry and prose. And I love all things green, especially trees. They are the only things that thrive in my yard after all these many years of trying....I too have a terrible brown thumb, for most plants I am the kiss of death and have been for many years, My poor mother-in-law wasted so many cuttings and little slips of plants on me. She could not believe that she would be unable to nurture a green thumb in me. I love this hub and I will hope with all my heart that your little Cypress does well. :) Theresa

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Cypress trees are beautiful we have many close by and are so admired. The photos are gorgeous and the tree looks petite and also full of life.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, Rasma, I'm very proud of my little tree. I think you've given a formula for keeping it happy! I'll need to find the right poetry and music for it. The sun has been very cooperative for several days and the little fellow has been basking in it!

      Thank you for the visit and nice comments!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and beautiful. What a wonderful cypress tree. I wish it all the best. Very creatively done and great pics. I suggest a nice poetic reading to the cypress, with some peaceful accompanying music and soft afternoon sun. Hugs.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Aw, Wayne, what a delightful idea! The lovely thing about it would be there could be no criticism!! The audience would simply green at me! ;-)

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! You've been missed! I read your explanation that you're working on your book, so it's for a good cause!

    • wayne barrett profile image

      Wayne Barrett 

      5 years ago from Clearwater Florida

      Nellieanna, I think that if you read some of your poetry to the sapling that it would flourish magnificently.

      Beautiful work my friend.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      I edit and re-edit before I publish a hub and still immediately find errors I missed, as well as later on! Yes, one wonders if anyone else noticed and if so, why wasn't it pointed out. But there are times when someone has 'pet errors' that are frequently shown, and I just sort of ignore them because they'd seem to require a whole grammar course so they'd be understood and could be self-edited

      At least the plant pets don't require litter boxes or daily walks! haha!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Not a problem Nellieanna. Always willing to help out. I know I appreciate it if someone points out a boo-boo to me in one of my hubs. I often find one when I am re-reading them and wonder why no-one's pointed it out.

      Yes, I agree plants, especially trees and shrubs can be likened to pets and need a lot of care and attention.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh, John, thank you! I just corrected that boo-boo. When I typed that, it didn’t seem quite right in a vague fleeting awareness which I hadn't remembered at all till now. Of course it’s John Denver, not Bob! I’m so glad you mentioned it! It’s sort of a comical error, really. Such a contrast in two Denvers, each noted in his field, but for vastly different talents!!

      I am hoping to be able to sustain the little cypress. I have to laugh about plants as gifts, though. In a way, it’s not too unlike gifting a kitten or a puppy! The recipient's work from that moment on begins! haha.

      I wrote “Brown Thumb” in 1972 based on an actual garden I started, with a few exaggerations. :-)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey Nellieanna, look after that little cypress. I never have luck with pines, they always die on me sadly. I love this hub, especially the poem "Brown Thumb". Oh by the way 'Sunshine On My Shoulder' is sung by John Denver. Bob Denver is the actor who played Gilligan in Gilligan's Island, and Maynard G Krebs in the Dobie Gillis Show. Voted up.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank you for the encouragement, Blossom! I watered my new baby well this evening, letting it drain the excess water so it's not standing in it. Most of my plants like that treatment.

      I've experienced both extremes with plants, - too much water and too little. Succulents especially simply can't stand over watering. So I'm being careful with this baby! My daughter gave it to me and I'm still sad about a previous plant she gave me, a baby gardenia plant which slowly failed, surely from over-watering. The same thing almost happened to a plant my daughter-in-law gave me. When I allowed it to stay nearly dry, it has rallied and stopped dropping its leaves. Now I just give it a little sip every so often and its prognosis looks much better. It's possible that I replanted it in too-dense potting soil, too. One learns. I've salvaged some of its branches which fell off and they're rooting in water.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      How lovely! It sounds as if this baby might just survive. Good luck with it. I know from experience, that once they go too dry for too long they don't recover, but I hope yours makes it - it looks lovely and what a delightful gift.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Martie! OH, how nice! Yes, my li’l tree has made itself into a ‘pet’ here. I just moved it to the kitchen table for the late afternoon sun. There is more of that upstairs, where there are taller windows on that SW side, and being higher up so they catch more of the sun’s rays above the neighbor’s roof. But I prefer to keep my plants and their care downstairs, for various reasons. Anyway, so far, so good! The ‘baby’ gives me pleasure - and should continue to do so, as long as I give it what it needs! haha

      Hope you are enjoying your 2014 so far!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      Oh, my dear Nellieanna, I can see you so clearly in my mind taking care of your new baby.

      This is a delightful hub! You made me laugh and cry....

      May your baby brings you only joy and happiness :)

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Eddy - Oh, yes! Here’s to many more hubs from both of us to share! If or when I ever get ‘down’ about anything going on here in HP, all I have to do is think of the joy of sharing what we all love to do (and almost can’t keep from doing) with our fellow writer-compatriots right here, and I’m back up and going again! Since I had almost less than no expectations when I joined and didn’t really intent to ‘publish’ anything here, - just joined to please a friend - I have had no way to go but “UP” from the beginning.

      I'd absolutely no intention of either earning money OR recognition; so when I timidly started publishing some hubs and found sincere interest expressed by my fellow Hubbers, I was just overjoyed! It took a long time for me to even really notice and question the ‘scores’! haha. Of course, once I did, I noticed their erratic fluctuations, but it was, like - so what? Wasn’t my quest to start with.

      So I’m quite pleased and gratified that you enjoy my hubs and find them serene and wondrous. Those ‘scores’ are the ones that please my notice! Thank you!!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Hi, Shan - thank you! Yes, the color of this little tree is sort of bluish green. Reminds me a bit of Kentucky Bluegrass, in fact. It’s a lovely color. We both love greens! My green thumb is bashful, at best, but, like many things about me, if called upon to rally to the challenge, it seems capable. As I said, it's an education!

      But when I think of a really GREEN thumb, I think of Mother’s. The woman simply had a feel for plants and could get anything to grow, from a bit of a torn leaf to a shard of bark! She also loved the study of Botany, as well as the study of other living things. I’m lately learning that several of my grandchildren have that same affinity, which is quite gratifying!

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Shauna, Thank you. Now for another confession! I saw your question and realized I really didn’t know. I looked (again) at the brief information that came with it, and saw almost no more than before, except that it calls it a 'European Cypress'. Here is what I’ve learned about that name or type:

      “European Cypress (Chamaecypari Iawsoniana “Ellwoodii”). The common name used for this tree is Lawson False Cypress because it really isn't a cypress at all.” WOW!

      I find various & sometimes contradictory instructions for its care, such as needing direct sun or not tolerating direct sun; needing to be kept moist at all times but not ever soggy; thriving in living outdoors or never liking to be outdoors.

      I think I’ll simply follow my instincts as I did with my first baby. ;-)

      I’d studied the Better Homes & Gardens Baby Book for 9 months, focusing on every little action to be done when the bundle of joy arrived. So when I was trying to bathe him the first time, he was screaming, I was frazzled (trying to read and follow the book’s instructions to a T) when my husband walked in and said, “Why don’t you just wash him?” haha! He may have meant it as a putdown, but it made such sense that that was exactly what I did; and from that moment on, I never referred to that book again!

      Anyway, several of the advisors say that it will enjoy living in a bit larger indoor pot (preferably with wheels), that it can be pruned to stay at a manageable indoor size & shape and can be used as a live Christmas tree every year. If it is planted outside, it says, it doesn’t prefer bitter cold but if it is protected, it can grow to 15 feet and be 5’ wide.

      I’ve seen many tall skinny cypress trees in and around Del Rio down nearer my ranch country, - and even a few here in Dallas. Del Rio is in a dry area, but the city has a huge springs which irrigates the area and keeps it rather verdant, like an oasis. So I’m not sure whether its trees are thriving on the dryness or on the irrigation.

      I guess I will just ‘talk to’ mine and try to please it. So far, it seems very happy with the care I’ve been giving it.

    • Nellieanna profile imageAUTHOR

      Nellieanna Hay 

      5 years ago from TEXAS

      Dear Maria, I’m amazed to learn that you have any confessions to make! - haha - Well, I do for sure, though I have a’ bit of luck’ with plants sometimes; Just can never claim to green expertise.

      Oh, yes, - it’s folks’ differences which always must be kept in mind and respected, especially by each of us for our own differences, both our strengths as well as our limitations, - all of which make us unique and who we are!

      I hope your 2014 is full of good things, too, my dear! Thank you! Hugs!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      Your beautiful creations always take me on a serene and wondrous journey. As I have said before you have a wonderful heart full of joy and dignity. I vote up and share and here's to so many more hubs for us both to share on here. Have a great weekend and lots of love for you from Wales Nellieanna.


    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon Henry 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Such a beautiful little tree. I've often admired the cypress trees. They have a unique shape about them unlike other trees. And it is my favorite color to boot - nice to see in the mist of a white snow pile! ;) Like a little bit of spring amid the winter. Your green thumb is surely much greener than mine, so I'm sure it will do well.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      Nellieanna, what type of cypress is your little gem? We have huge cypress trees in Florida that love wet feet. In fact they are most often found at the perimeter of lakes and pond, with their trunks jutting above the water. We also have Lelandii (Leland) Cypress, which look similar to Christmas trees and grow in full sun. Yours looks like it may be a Lelandii.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      From one "brown thumb to another", this is a lovely confession, dear Nellieanna.

      You have shown that we are all different in our requirements for growth and thriving in this thoughtful collection of essay, poetry, illustrations and song.

      Hoping 2014 is a happy, healthy and peaceful for you. Love, Maria


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