Let me say first that this palm and I are not in love. I didn't think it was possible for there to be a dysfunctional relationship between a person and a tree. It is. We have it in for each other. Young palm is the ornamental kind plopped down on front lawns of Floridian planned communities, one that doesn't ask for much, or gets that much attention. And when it does, when raking or weeding or any kind of proximity is required, it gets its revenge, tearing at you with its tiny trunk spikes, pulling out your hair with its saw-toothed fronds, generally scratching and biting. It's like that kid in junior high who stood by herself in the school yard, the one you thought you might befriend because you too were a solitary kid in the school yard, both of you with strange hair, too-big glasses. Until you tried to get close and the kid went cuckoo's nest all over you. So we stood on either end of the yard, by ourselves, me and this kid. I mean, tree. Me and this tree keep our distance, mutually misunderstanding each other.
But every April, ornamental lawn palm has its own spring awakening. It doesn't care whether it's admired or appreciated. (Yes, I know, it's a tree. But work with me). It bursts open thousands of tiny cream colored palm flowers, snapping all over it like popcorn. It suddenly reminds me of all kinds of surprising and transcendent things, on my way to the car to do something routine and ordinary. It seems happy, or, at least, generous and forgiving. I take a chance and get close. And it lets me in.