Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Symbol of the Horse Chestnut

The horse chestnuts are littering the ground. It's a great time of year.

The other day, I found the spiky whole shells and the half open ones and the glossy chestnuts. I took one of each with me. They are in my car's cup holder--waiting for me to have an opportunity to tell my kids how great these symbols of autumn are.

I adore horse chestnuts.

So did one of my Eastern religion professors at college, Albert Sadler.  

He had a pile of horse chestnuts on his desk. We'd talk about how useful they were.

"They're a beautiful color, and they're nice to touch and hold, and the flowers of the trees smell great in spring," I think he said. 

I agreed.

Professor Sadler used to walk around campus with pockets bulging with horse chestnuts.

He once told me that it was his personal mission to plant as many as he could.

"They were growing; they were saplings, maybe six inches tall," he told me excitedly. "I was watching them from my office window. I was thrilled that I could finally see some chestnuts I planted actually growing into trees."

And then, " come the weed whackers. I watched them go. Ah, well," he said, good-naturedly.

I always thought that was such a Zen thing to say.

This story is one I think about every time I see a horse chestnut.

I am also reminded of Professor Sadler when someone compliments me on my "flawless" Chinese accent (in all honesty, I only know about six or seven Chinese words, but I learned how to pronounce them from you-know-who).

Professor Sadler is dead now, I believe,

But I will always remember him when I see a horse chestnut. 

I think he'd like that.

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