waste not, want not

“So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short,
and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

Seneca


(a busy and hungry carpenter bee on the Meyer lemon tree / Julie Cook / 2017)

Waste not want not
is an expression that appears to have its origin in Old English lexicons dating back to 1576.
“For want is nexte to waste, and shame doeth synne ensue,”

A more familiar version emerges in 1721 as the expression
“willful waste makes woeful want”…

Which eventually turned into the short and sweet proverb we use today.

Each of my grandmothers used various versions on me and my cousins when we were all little…
with each version having much the the same meaning….
that our wanting should never be confused with our needing…
and lest we ever dare to be wasteful with what we’d been given…we had been warned.

As it all boils down to the understanding the difference between wanting, needing and wasting…

So as I was watching this carpenter bee enjoying the new blooms on the lemon tree,
I was reminded of that long ago wisdom as I watched him accidentally knock off a few of the petals.

Obviously not one to be wasteful, the bee immediately left the tree, flying down to the
the fallen petals on the sidewalk, making certain he had gotten all the
nectar he could….leaving nothing to waste.

Oh that we mere mortals could be so mindful…

But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and
harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

1 Timothy 6:6-9

How do you do?

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(green grasshopper perched on a meyer lemon leaf / Julie Cook / 2014

This is the voice of high midsummer’s heat.
The rasping vibrant clamour soars and shrills
O’er all the meadowy range of shadeless hills,
As if a host of giant cicadae beat
The cymbals of their wings with tireless feet,
Or brazen grasshoppers with triumphing note
From the long swath proclaimed the fate that smote
The clover and timothy-tops and meadowsweet.

Sir Charles George Douglas Robert

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(katydid–more leaf than insect / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(green grasshopper / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(green grasshopper / Julie Cook / 2014)

A recent visit by two insects which upon first glance appear to be more leaf like than living creature.
One is a slender green grasshopper the other a katydid, also known as a bush cricket. Both are relatives but whereas the grasshopper is not much for singing, the katydid will rub its front wings together producing the long familiar Southern summer evening serenade.

There must always be hope

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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Bumble bee nibbling on a calamondin leaf / Julie Cook / 2014

Ok, so I’ve been on a bit of a global tear recently. . .what with the all headlines these days being troubling, frustrating and indeed frightening.
I have had my small epiphany.
This as I was out watering my small Meyer Lemon tree and Calamondin Tree.

As troubling as the times may indeed be, there is one thing that I know to be true.
There is a concrete anchor in the sifting sands of uncertainty.
No matter how dire our lives may become, there is one thing which must always remain a certainty.

And that is Hope

As we trudge forward carrying on, as carrying on is what we must do, it is the thought, concept and idea that all is never truly lost which is what will propel us forward.

And now you might be asking as to where one would find this obscure ideal of which I speak. . .
Thankfully, we need not look far. . .
for Hope is constantly around us.

I was a most fortunate observer of this concept of Hope yesterday afternoon as I was watering my two little fruit trees. It was here where I found my epiphany.

You may remember several months back, when we were all just emerging from the winter from Hell, I posted a couple of pictures of my two little fruit trees which had wintered in our basement during the course of the long winter.

An onslaught of spider mites had stripped both trees of every single leaf. I had put two seemingly healthy trees up for the winter in November at the first frost—with each tree being full of leaves and ladened with ripening fruit. Yet as the winter wore on and as I picked the ripening fruit, the spider mites devoured my trees. I did everything I could do. I pulled them out on warmer days hosing them off, hand rubbing the leaves in a vain attempt to rid them of the nearly invisible parasites. I couldn’t spray them with any poison as they still were bearing fruit.

Finally when the weather folks sounded the all clear for no more destructive deep freezes, I pulled the small trees back outside to bask in the warm Spring sun. Next I bought an insecticide soap and oil. I sprayed down the remaining sticks–as that was all that remained of my tress—brown sticks.
And then I simply waited— and I hoped.

I rolled the two trees, in their massively heavy pots, back to their familiar place on the front walk, fertilizing and reapplying the oil on a regular basis. As Spring continued to work her magic, the brown sticks began sprouting small leaves. Soon more and more leaves emerged. And eventually long tender new stems began to grow outward.

Today, amazingly, both trees are once again looking like healthy green, full leafed, lush fruit trees.

Each tree is sporting beautifully fragrant blooms accompanied by tiny new fruits.
And there are bees.
Lots and lots of happy pollinating bees.

There was a time several months back when I really thought I’d have to scrape the trees, sending them to compost heaven. I figured I was not a fruit farmer as citrus trees are not hearty here in Georgia and I was just fooling myself thinking that I could resurrect green leaves from dead wood.

But the waiting paid off.
My small efforts of oils and fertilizers, coupled by the warming days of sun and the refreshing spring showers, worked their magic.

For the time being, all is well with my little trees—and I know that there may be some new maladies waiting for my little trees somewhere down the road, yet for today, I will relish in the intoxicating fragrance of their tiny white blooms, marvel at the myriad of busy bees and butterflies helping to bring about new life in what was once brown dried up sticks, and lovingly watch my tiny little fruits grow plump and ripe.

Hope—
without it, we have nothing—with it we have everything.

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“Don’t you know this isn’t southern California….

“…what don’t you get about this whole seasons thing? This may be the South but we do have seasons you know, as in colder weather, as in frost and freezing temperatures…!!!! turn orange already for Heaven’s sake!!!!”

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This is what I could be heard saying to my Kumquats yesterday, nice green little, unripe, orbs. What’s up with this tree, doesn’t it understand we don’t have all summer, in fact, Summer officially closes with the passing of Labor Day!

I bought this Kumquat tree two years ago. I wrote a post about it, and my meyer lemon tree, back in the Spring. Yes, Spring, when things were hopeful—then came the Summer of deluge rains and grey skies. Let’s just say the Lemon tree is now just a few shoots growing out of its former little trunk. Yet on the flip side, I’ve got to hand it to the Kumquat tree—persevere it has!

Remember how I told you that I roll these puppies back and forth throughout the winter??—outside on the sunny warmer days, back in the garage on the cold wet days??—and of how many times they have fallen off of their dollies in mid transport… sending pots, dirt, trees and Julie, donning her pjs, every which way??…as this is usually happening around 10:00 at night when I finally catch the weather report with the warning of freezing temps…..

But I’ve been bound and determined to nurse these babies to full fruit production!! The meyer lemon tree is bound and determined to die—which I simply will not allow . It may be sprigs of it’s once former self, but there will be lemons again—one day–despite the fact that I’ve only gotten 3 lemons off of the tree, ever.

The kumquat, well, for some reason, it thinks that late summer is the perfect time to form fruit. The first year I bought the tree, it was indeed late summer–and it was loaded with fruit. I waited and waited, checking it each and every day for the perfect time for my small harvest. August came and went, as did September…into October—-are you kidding me!!!??? Our first freeze is early November, I can’t have unripe Kumquats sitting around waiting to freeze.

Just days before the first freeze, I’m out plucking beautiful orange fruit along with the green orange tinged stubborn orbs. “Whew, just in the nick of time…” That first batch of kumquats was bound for my calamondin cranberry relish—of which I use kumquats as there is nary a calamondin within miles of Georgia. This is a top secret family recipe and essential for fall meals, not to mention a Thanksgiving Turkey.

So here I am, once again, beginning my late Summer/ Fall panic watch of the kumquats. And to top off my worries, look what I found while pruning the bushes….

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Do you know what that is? It’s a wooly-bear caterpillar!—well at least that’s what I’ve always called them. Do you know what it means when you see wooly-bears this time of year? It is a sure indication that there will be an unusually cold winter. “DO YOU HEAR THAT KUMQUAT TREE?”

The possibility of what will be

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“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
Pope John XXIII

This is a picture taken of my little kumquat tree, now in full bloom. It is just now putting out some fresh blooms—hopefully meaning I may have more than the single kumquat from last season. I have two fruit trees, I keep in large planters as they are not hardy in our region during our winters, forcing me to have to roll them in and out of safety throughout the winter months as they do not tolerate freezing temps very well. They relish being outside in the late spring through early fall but once the threat of a hard freeze in eminent, I struggle getting the planters up on small dollies, keeping them on the dollies all winter, allowing me to push and pull them to the garage as needed.

One plant is the kumquat, pictured, the other is a most sad looking Meyer lemon tree. Two years ago, when I bought them from a local nursery, they each produced a good bit of fruit. I was so proud of my lemons– and the kumquats went towards a secret family recipe for a cranberry kumquat relish (the recipe actually calls for calamondins but those are not found anywhere near me, so I’ve substituted the kumquats as they are found in the grocery stores)—the relish is made and served all through the holidays much to my husband’s joy.

Last year, sadly, was a different story and I’m certain it has to do with the whole pollenating thing of having just the single tree plus the stress and strain of rolling around all winter. The lemon tree produced no lemons–each tiny new lemon would simply whiter, dying and falling off the tree. Then a late spring freeze did a number on its new growth. I’ve had to cut it back so that it resembles more of a stick poking out of a pot then a beautiful tree. The kumquat tree produced just 3 kumquats, forcing me to head to the grocery by the time the holiday season rolled around in order to buy enough for the recipe.

I do baby them as best I know how, cheering and rooting them on to bloom–hopefully giving way to their beautiful fruits. Each tree currently is blooming and keeping the bees busy. The Meyer lemon tree actually has several small lemons, about 10, but whether they will grow and flourish is yet to be seen—but I am always hopeful.

These small trees have a mighty potential… just like us– as we all have a mighty potential. Unfortunately we often get caught up in our failings rather than our successes. We focus more on the negatives more so than we do on our positives. My husband wonders why I continue bothering with the trees–this when I’ve forgotten to roll them to safety around the 10:00 PM news, when I just hear of the impending freeze, forcing me outside, usually donned in only pajamas..frantically pushing the trees to safety. How many times they’ve tipped over from the dollies, pots cracking, me scooping up tree and dirt, wrapping in duct tape until I can properly repair my damage……

But continue I do because I know what is possible… not only from the trees, but from myself as well. Not that I expect to be a master fruit tree producer, but because I know I can care for two trees which can in turn offer us something wonderfully rewarding. It’s just a matter of seeing the possibilities and believing I can get it right…eventually.

That’s why I like today’s quote so much—there are always hopes and dreams…there is always unfulfilled potential. There is never a reason to quit and give up, not as long as there is still energy and a will….I never give up hope—that’s not to say I’ve never been depressed or felt defeated…but as is usually the case, I regroup my strengths and energies–always giving it another go, another chance, another fight….pushing forward till I get it right…

Here is to unleashing the possibilities within us all…………