Day of the Samaras

Do-do, do-do; do-do, do-do…coming soon to a neighborhood near you…The Day of the Samaras! No, no reason to be alarmed. Samaras are the fruit of maple trees. Back around 1991, I watched my neighbor, plant a scrawny stem of a tree in his back yard, replacing a dying white birch. Today, that silver maple (or soft maple as my Marshfield friends call the species) soars to a height of over 70 feet.
Today is also launch day. Saturday’s wind storm loosened a few of the seed pods, but today is the big drop. I sit at my kitchen window listening to the samaras hit the metal screens with a whing and a whang and to the dry patter against the siding and roof, while watching the tawny pods helicopter to the ground, falling by the hundreds. (Hey…anyone want to come clean out my rain gutters?)

Sprinkled over the green grass of my back yard is the potential for a veritable forest. Each samara contains everything needed for the growth of a new tree. All that is required is that it be buried in a few inches of soil, and with a little bit of rain, the pod will split, sending out roots and shoots. Yet of the thousands of seeds, perhaps only one or two will ever germinate…and even then the young sapling will fall prey to a lawnmower or weed-whacker. In some way, it all seems like a futile effort. Why such a prolific crop in the face of such hostile conditions? Yet it’s the not the tree’s place to question the efficacy of its seeds; it is the tree’s place to produce fruit.

It’s like the old question: “How many seeds are in an apple? Five. How many apples are in a seed? Who could count them all?” Or like the horseradish rising up, waving its broad green leaves to the sun. It’s brand-new this spring, yet its legacy goes back more than 100 years. Good German folk that they were, my father’s parents who moved from the Upper Peninsula to Wabeno brought horseradish with them and planted it in their yard right around the turn of the century…the 20th century. When my grandmother’s house was about to be removed from its home in the town to a lakeside location, my father traveled to Wabeno and dug up the crowns, planting them in our back yard. That was some time in the early 1960s. When I moved to Marshfield, I brought some of the crowns with me and planted them in my yard. No, there is no part of the original roots remaining, but their descendants thrive.

Jesus had a lot to say about trees, about grain, about seeds, about fruit. He spoke of the grain that must be buried and die to bring forth more grain. He talked of the hearts of men that are like the ground upon which the seeds land…some hard-packed and closed, some open but too shallow to sustain growth, some receptive and productive. He discussed trees that bore fruit…and what would happen to those that did not. In the end, we are like both…the soil and the tree. Soil that needs to be raked with the sharp tines of the plow and harrow to be receptive of the seed. And a tree, fruitful, casting the seeds of the gospel far and wide. Will that fruit we produce germinate and bring forth new trees? Only God knows…but that is not our job. Our job is to be faithful…and the legacy we leave, even though we may never see it with our earthly eyes, will touch eternity.


By kathykexel

I've been writing from close to the time I learned to read. Fortunately, almost nothing exists from those days. Throughout my working life, I've jotted down bits and pieces here and there. But now that we m retired, I've run out of excuses not to write.

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