Walnuts or Roses?


Note: The nice people @Spill_words have republished this today. 

When you’ve been together as long as we have—
the grown children are off making their own mistakes,
and careers have been dropped like bad habits—
the arguments tend to be about basic things.
We no longer tolerate easy answers.

Just the hard ones, such as those about walnuts and flowers.

One of you wants to plant the trees everywhere,
Knowing they’ll grow 100 feet high, and three across.
Their fruit is good, and their wood makes sublime furniture.
This all comes with foresight and patience.
Remembering a father saying one day, a few years before he died,
“Plant a walnut tree and generations will thank you.”

And that one comment opened things up
Far beyond the narrow view of a child, and ever after,
You see them in the woods differently, craning your neck up 100 feet,
Overwhelmed with the spirits of things that will outlive you.

And the other one doesn’t know where your walnut fixation comes from
because you never told her. She just knows that the walnut tree
drops chemicals in the dirt to poison the competition.
Ruthless Mother Nature at work.
But she’s on a mission to protect every living thing she can,
and to her, the walnut’s natural tendencies have to be balanced.
She prefers to see flowers grow, and bees and butterflies,
Because she luxuriates in life’s tendency to flourish, given a chance.
She’s a chance-giver.

Fundamental differences. Irreconcilable, yet both perfectly valid.
So, as you can see,
We’re down to the nitty-gritty questions that really have no easy answer.
Not the trivial stuff, such as who’s God is right.

No. Important ones, such as whether our being here has changed
In even the slightest, the speed of the Earth’s rotation,
Or how much more time we have,
Or what people will say of us.
Or how the world can have both walnuts and roses.



8 Replies to “Walnuts or Roses?”

  1. I so enjoy reading about others’ realizations that two opposing approaches can both be valid. So many great lines in this one like “Not the trivial stuff, such as who’s God is right.” That one line houses a world of philosophy! The conversational tone is perfect for such a dichotomy discussion between two people who have careers “dropped like bad habits”. A delightful read by someone who adores both walnut trees and flower blossoms.


    1. Thank you for your comments, LuAnne. It’s frustrating sometimes, this clash of two right things. Absolutism doesn’t really have the answers to that reality. And as the news of more bombings over the weekend prove, absolutists may be the end of us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I so agree. Absolutism doesn’t really have the answers to any reality I suspect. Your poem, though, illustrated this idea so beautifully and in a way that I could relate to. How wonderful to counter such violence with peaceful ponderings such as this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this, Hemmingplay. Lovely! Reminds me of the Walnut tree orchard we had on our property when I was a child, and how tall the trees were, and how nothing else grew around them.

    Liked by 1 person

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