Our special almond tree

2022. március 17.

We work at an internationally renowned neuroscience research institute, many of our staff are among the best in their field, so we always have something to write about. Yet, one of the March articles is always about a blossoming almond tree.

It's all because of Gabi Benkó, I have to tell it. I just fell into it, I would say if I were summoned to appear before a judge. As I recall, the website was then only available to the staff of the Institute, and it was only that time that they asked what kind of almond tree I was writing about. That happened then, too, that someone advised me to go and work for a better newspaper, instead of spending my time here. I thought it was too late to take that advice, as there was no guarantee that I would achieve greater success elsewhere, so I stayed, as did the almond tree article in the annual list of articles.
As is the general habit of almond trees, our almond tree also started budding in scary cold weather, as if paying attention not to the weather but to the calendar - end of February, budding starts, the first week of March, flowering! - but miraculously, it somehow always survived the freezing nights and mornings, as well as the increasingly scorching summers, the engines running over its two square meters of hard-packed soil, the accidental dropped and then uncollected rubbish, the cutting of thick branches when people thought they might be dangerous because of the wires, and in July you could pick ripe, tasty almonds from under it, sometimes several kilos, and there would be some left on the tree until the following spring if there were no violent storms.

It was not affected by the epidemic, but even the construction plans did not seem to have the same effect on it as the stately, bird-nesting honeysuckle trees, which were affected by the land-use planning that began with the felling of the trees. It represented spring, hope, and permanence until a stormy weekend in February. Who knows if it was Saturday or Sunday, but by Monday morning, the shocking sight of the fallen tree greeted those arriving from the parking lot.

If it had not been encircled by concrete and had not fallen on top of one of the buildings bordering it on two sides, its root would have been completely torn out and perhaps beyond saving, so 'only' half of its root was torn out and split, and the trunk cracked over the root for about half a meter. As soon as possible, the phone went out to the plant doctor or gardener, and by the afternoon, although only the torso of our beautiful tree was left, it was standing again. After all but one of its thick branches had been sawed off as unsalvageable, as much as the concrete poured around it over the years would allow, it was put back in the ground and watered. For although there were those who have said that it was finished, that it would never come to anything, that it was no use, the majority wanted it to remain, just as the gardener wanted it to.

He knew immediately that it was an old, valuable kind of almond tree, and that it was worth the effort, even if it only lasted until August because then it would be possible to collect grafts, and it could live on, if not here, then in one or two new trees.
So our tree is standing, and it's been almost two weeks since it started to bud and then blossom. As the days are quite cold and the nights are frosty, it is a little slower than usual.
It is true that a metal band encircles its trunk, the end of which is attached to a concrete pile of the column, perhaps less than half a meter from the tree, as is the end of the rubber rope that holds the long shoots growing on the only remaining thick branch straight up to the sky. It's the least that that building can do for occupying his land for decades, blocking the rain from it, you might say to that shed or column if he were human, but he's not human, and there's no point to tell humans anything anymore, either.

At the most, if the ground around the tree is grey, they can take a turn with the little 5-liter plastic bucket that is hung on the birdhouse and splash some water on it. It may not only have enough life and will to live left in it to flower - an almond tree is able to do practically everything - but it will survive until August and beyond.
Even if we may never see it again as beautiful as it was last year.