The vernal equinox has come and gone. Scientifically, this event marks the beginning of Spring. Traditionally, ‘Spring’ has something to do with weather. The result is unscientific: here in Santa Barbara, for instance, it means that outside conditions moved from feeling like ‘early summer’ to being like ‘mid-summer’(on the equator). In Boston, conditions changed from frigid and snowy to cold and snowy. In Australia where everything is upside down, leaves started falling up from the trees.

And, speaking of Australia, our gargantuan Eucalyptus Tree, an Australian (illegal alien or undocumented flora), has been removed. It learned that it is rude to drop branches onto the grounds and I have learned that it is neither easy nor inexpensive to cut down a 150 foot tree. It took two days, a team of four people. ropes, pulleys, levers and chain saws. There was, of course, ancillary damage - some outdoor lighting was crushed and the irrigation system for the yard was damaged:

“It doesn’t matter, Dan,” Nazy explained. “We didn’t do much watering. All the plants were cactus and succulents.”

“Tell it to the Eucalyptus tree, my dear.”

Tree removal also generated a
lot of saw dust. Normally saw dust is no problem. However, Eucalyptus saw dust is toxic. After the chop-down phase, several inches of sawdust covered, eh, ‘everything’. They blew a lot of it into the storm sewer - flaunting environmental regulations because they knew that we never have storms. (Toxic Eucalyptus sawdust has a half life of 3200 years, so it will be benign before it washes into the sea.) However, a lot of sawdust was deposited on our flower planters and bougainvillea. Some remained even after Marjorie blew a bunch away with a hair dryer. But many shrubs and flowers now have to cope with both water deprivation (no sprinkler) and toxic wood shavings.

Moreover, the grand(est)son, who used to say ‘Hi’ to
THE TREE every time he visited, is now unhappy to be dealing with a stump. We hope that this traumatic experience, the disappearance of a 150-foot behemoth, will not scar him for life,
A neighbor, on the other hand, told me that we were lucky that it was a Eucalyptus tree that threatened the house.
california oak from driveway

“If it had been a California Oak, it would have taken months or years to get a removal permit.”

“Really? The tree was dying. It looked ready to fall on the house.”

“You wouldn’t be allowed to chop down a California Oka unless it had already fallen on your house and, preferably, had maimed someone.”

The Vernal Equinox also marks the beginning of the Persian New Year (it’s 1393). Mitra drove to Santa Barbara to help us celebrate. And my sister, Marjorie, was also visiting. This year traditions were followed - up to a point.

“We’re not getting a live goldfish this year.” Nazy announced.

“Won’t that give us bad luck?” I asked. “I know that taking care of a goldfish is messy and the aquarium store won’t take the fish back. But Melika has a Koi pond and we’ve been doing a ‘release to freedom’ into that pond every New Year. It’s not a problem.”

“It is a problem if you’re a goldfish. Marjorie says that Koi are carnivores.”


“She looked it up on the web. Koi eat goldfish, Dan.”

“It’s a dog eat dog world, my dear.”

“Did you know about this when you dropped Mo and Sybil into the Koi pond last year?”
yellow hyacynth

“What a beautiful celebratory display you’ve created Nazy. I really like the purple Hyacinths.”

“Are you changing the subject?”

“Of course not. Do you think that Los Angeles will get a pro football team next year? And what about the Dodgers?”

Note: After debating about the precise shade of purple hyacinth that would best represent our hopes and wishes for the (Persian) New Year, Nazy found a yellow hyacinth.

While Mitra was visiting we all went to
Lotusland, a 37 acre garden full of exotic plants that is in nearby Montecito. We took the Grand(est)son along on the excursion. My plan was to push him along in the stroller, but the garden grounds were not stroller friendly and we all took turns carrying him. He insisted on pointing things out and was exceptionally vocal - sometimes drowning out the docent.

The garden is beautiful and unique. It’s founder, Ganna Walska, got her money the old fashioned way (outliving or divorcing many husbands). She acquired the plants and designed the gardens over 40 years. Her mantra? “
I am an enemy of the average.”

At home after the visit, Mitra had brought some dried tree seed capsules from Los Angeles..
Tiger pointing the way at lotus land

“Not ‘seed capsules’, Dad. Musical devices.” Mitra interrupts.

“Rhythmic instruments, Mitra. They rattle. They are shaped like capsules. And you did get them from trees.”

“I want to see how Tiger interacts with them.”

“He will bang them on the ground, Mitra. He bangs everything on the ground. Then he’ll try to eat them.”

“I thought Melika had taught him that he shouldn’t eat things he picks up from the ground.”

“Melika has taught him that he shouldn’t let anyone see him eat things that he picks up from the ground. He doesn’t. He waits until your back is turned or your eyes are averted and then he tastes.”
Mitra, tiger and line of music


“And, when he gets to be two, he’ll wait until you
are looking before stuffing it into his mouth and laughing.”

“You’ve done this before, Dad.”


For last week's letter, click here

Mitra and Marjorie
at the Mission

Marjorie and Mitra Rose garden full size

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