Birth Of An Avocado
By Teri Saya
CRASH! My eyes pop open, and I reach for my Te-Bo stick, a small but handy weapon I keep next to the bed. I lay still in the darkness while listening for more sounds of the clumsy burglar foolish enough to park over our courtyard wall in the middle of the night. My husband wears earplugs and continues to snore softly. The dog has perked her ears up but is not interested enough to drag herself out of bed.
Hearing nothing further, I silently crawl out of bed and tiptoe to the window that faces the courtyard. With the full moon and eerie glow from the streetlights, it’s pretty bright out there. I look for movement in the shadows and broken pottery. I see neither.
I glide through the quiet house with weapon in hand, peeking into each room and at last, checking the locks on the doors. Everything seems to be in order. Then, what the heck was that noise? It had sounded like a clay pot being knocked over. Maybe it was in the neighbor’s yard, and they have a clumsy burglar or a stray cat? I go back to bed, put my Te-Bo stick back in its place and fall asleep.
The next morning, I go out and check the courtyard. In the farthest corner, on top of a small table under the tall avocado tree, I find the broken shards of a ceramic plate I had placed there the night before. In the middle of the shards lay a perfect, large, dark green avocado. I look up into the tree; its broad leaves obscuring view of any more green bombs. I pick up the avocado and move out of target range.
The tree had been planted six years earlier by our neighbor and friend, Chone—an older gentleman who had a habit of rising early in the morning to sweep the sidewalk and street in front of his and our homes. He always had a cigarette hanging from his lips and was full of information about the neighborhood. He would bring us things like a bag of oranges, cookies, chayote’s, and the best spicy sausages I had ever tasted! My husband knew him much longer that I had, and he told me how Chone would look after the place whenever he had to go back to the states to work.
One year after my husband had retired and we had permanently moved to Mexico, the familiar swish, swish of the broom Chone used every morning went silent. He had died in his sleep. We missed him terribly.
It was strange a few days later to come across a photo of him on Google Earth’s street level view standing there in front of our home with his broom in hand. Even a year after his death, every once in a while, we hear someone sweeping our sidewalk early in the morning, but when we go to see who it is, there’s no one there.
The avocado seed that Chone had planted in our courtyard had become a fifteen-foot shade tree that never produced fruit until now. When we both saw that new avocado, we were thrilled that our tree had finally given birth, and we thought of Chone shaking that tree to let us know he’s still around.