RSS Feed

A Pawpaw Forest

 

Earlier this summer I wrote about my excitement when my two twelve-year-old Pawpaw trees flowered and seemed ready to fruit, and then I wrote about my grief when one of the Pawpaw trees was cut down by the co-op’s hired gardeners. Well, recently, when Mom was examining the stump of the dead Pawpaw tree, where she had set up one of her experiments to encourage new growth, she happened to look two feet further along the retaining wall and saw what looked like Pawpaw leaves dangling over the side. She examined them closely, comparing the leaves to the healthy Pawpaw leaves on the surviving tree about fifty feet away, and they looked very much the same. How odd!

002

 

The possible Pawpaw leaves were hanging from two stand-alone stems, half green and half brown, and wobbly from very recent growth. We had not planted new Pawpaw seeds, or even noticed any random Pawpaw trees planting themselves under the mass of other trees and bushes in the retaining wall, but there they were, as tall as the two year old trees that we’d had shipped to us a few years ago (unsuccessfully). But it just seemed so unlikely, to me, that new Pawpaw trees could have planted themselves right there, without any help, and just when we really needed them.

006

Mom brought me outside to examine the leaves for myself, and even let me pick one of the leaves to bring over to the big Pawpaw tree to compare. But I still felt skeptical, because that’s my automatic response to most things. It can’t be true, especially if I want it to be true. Mom was, and is always, more trusting. She pointed out the unique quilting design on the leaves, unlike any other leaves nearby, and the shine on the baby leaves, which I’d seen many times myself when our Pawpaws came back to life each spring.

003

A few days later, Mom went back to the same spot, to make sure the Pawpaw plants were still there, and not just a mirage made out of grief, and she found another, much smaller, Pawpaw sapling, maybe just a few weeks old. And she kept going back, and searching more carefully, and finding more Pawpaws. I still wasn’t convinced though. It seemed too much like the universe looking out for me.

010

It never occurred to me that my trees would try to re-create themselves. I thought, actually, that Mom and I would put in endless years of effort for no real reward, because that’s how my life has always seemed to me. But I think I might be wrong this time. We still have new-growth devices on three branches of the existing Pawpaw tree, and the makeshift device on the Pawpaw stump, and if these previously hidden little trees are real Pawpaws, then we are on our way to having a Pawpaw forest in the yard to replace the one tree that was cut down by the gardeners. And we still have a Pawpaw tree coming next spring, as a peace offering form the gardening company.

004

The Papa Pawpaw

We’ll have to replant the saplings in different parts of the yard, where they will each have sunlight and space to spread out, to give them a real chance to survive. But it seems miraculous already, that they even exist. There’s a metaphor in all of this, or too many metaphors to count, but here’s hoping the hidden Pawpaws are a sign of good things to come in the next year.

 

001

Ellie’s ready for some gardening!

IMG_1860

Cricket is already digging!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

 

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

80 responses »

  1. Yay! This is such good news, Rachel! Definitely a day brightener. Oh, Ellie. Honey. Ok, let’s go dig. Cricket, you are gonna have to share that shovel.

    Reply
  2. Interesting. To me, pawpaw is another, less common name for a papaya. Australians also sometimes refer to papaya as pawpaw. After reading your post I checked and the American pawpaw about which you wrote is an entirely different plant. You can see that, as a gardener, I zoomed by the metaphors and went straight to the taxonomy. Now I guess I need to track down sn American pawpaw and sample it!

    Reply
  3. I found your article so interesting, as something very similar happened to me with a passion flower vine. My neighbors had a prolific vine with purple blossoms that smelled heavenly and was just gorgeous! I always admired it from afar over the iron fence between us. One day when I came home it was completely cut back and I was so disappointed they had done that. About a month later I noticed a sprout by my driveway. It had sent an underground shoot across their yard, under the fence and all the way to my yard. When I moved 10 years ago from that property, the little sprout came with me and I still grow Passion flowers. I am convinced it was all God’s doing…bringing me so much joy that day. I think I know how you feel!

    Reply
  4. Great to hear that the pawpaw is regenerating.
    In a world of bad news, it is a small moment of joy.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Reply
  5. Pawpaw trees colonize. Trees that have this tendency will do so even more if they are injured or cut down. Not saying yours did, likely you have a miracle. A really cool (free) app for identifying plants is pl@ntnet. When you open the app you take a picture of the leaf, stem, tell the app what it is (tree, shrub, flower) it identifies the plant. It’s pretty accurate.

    Reply
  6. Such a lovely voice lifting from the page, Rachel.

    Reply
  7. Hello there, Rachel. You and I are among the few WordPress writers who ever produced essays about pawpaws. We’re part of a special club!

    Neil Scheinin

    Reply
  8. Amazing. This is such good and hopeful news.

    Reply
  9. Our aspen trees put out new trees from the network of roots. Could your pawpaw have been doing something similar? They may be all connected underground through their root systems.

    Reply
  10. How very cool! A town not so very far away from us hosts Ohio’s pawpaw festival, and I think of them as almost a mystical kind of fruit…(they are very fleeting, I understand!)

    Reply
  11. Heavenly signs always seem to show up when we need them the most. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Wonderful news and surely a sign of better things to come.

    Reply
  13. I just like your pictures 😍

    Reply
  14. Wonderful news! I’m so happy for you!

    Reply
  15. How wonderful! Never give up and determination wins the day!

    Reply
  16. My home of 6 years had a Rose of Sharon and my second year 2/3 of it died (I may have over-pruned it, even though I had sought pruning advice from the MSU Extension). The third spring, I noticed a new shoot sprouting next to the old stump. It has grown into a healthy Rose of Sharon and every year now, new sprouts fill my garden. This year, I moved some of the shoots to other parts of my yard to see if I can create a Rose of Sharon forest. Love nature!

    Reply
  17. I’m not a gardener, so could be off base, but don’t some plants propagate if a mature tree is killed, through natural events or by being cut down? Leaving the stump there also says the roots of that original tree weren’t killed, and happily for you have sprouted again. Yay! Enjoy them! But I’d be prudent perhaps and if it’s allowed, put up a wooden or vinyl sign stating that the gardening folk shouldn’t cut those particular trees.

    Reply
  18. What a wonderful discovery! I am so happy for you, it was a sad day when the gardeners cut down your tree. I am glad they are making restitution.

    Reply
  19. More tree advice–most trees will sucker after being cut down, even if the trunk is destroyed. It’s actually one of the difficulties in getting rid of a tree. Some trees, like my maples, send out new seeds that will grow if left uncut. I’m nursing a “helicopter seed tree” right now that started this summer and has grown two feet. If you leave suckers alone long enough, they might turn into a tree or at least a pawpaw bush.

    Reply
  20. When the one paw paw was destroyed, the one that was left thought you considered them weeds so it behaved like a weed and multiplied.

    Reply
  21. First the good news about your job, then the little tree! I hope these are signs of wonderful things to come. (With so many people praying for you, how could they not?)

    Reply
  22. Great, unexpected news re the Paw Paw incident!

    Reply
  23. I’m going with the metaphor myself. You can’t keep a good woman down!

    Reply
  24. Super exciting!! And after darkness there is light! So so happy for you! Yes, this is surely a mirror intending to show you a wondrous fact of life (right alongside the ugly facts) that Good comes!

    Reply
  25. Ellie has many green thumbs… er… paws!!

    Reply
  26. I was curious so I asked google about propagating pawpaw trees, and found this. It contains some information you might find useful…
    https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/pawpaw/what-to-do-with-pawpaw-suckers.htm

    Reply
  27. Oh, those green paws are adorable!

    Reply
  28. Roots communicate with each other.

    Reply
  29. Aw, sweet! A Paw Paw Paradise! This is truly wonderful. I’m looking forward to updates as your forest flourishes. 😀

    Reply
  30. That is a wonderfully terrific omen! I believe in omens, but only if they’re good omens. New growth, new life, and a New Year coming soon. May all the good things continue for you.

    Reply
  31. Yay Pawpaws!!!! I needed some hope tonight. Thank you!

    Reply
  32. I am imagining good things coming your way, such as fruit from your Pawpaw.

    Reply
  33. Beautiful greenery. The universe is looking out for you.

    Reply
  34. So cute! Our doggies always want to help. 🙂

    Reply
  35. Wonderful news. The mother paw paw didn’t die in vain.

    Reply
  36. Greenary 👍

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: