Wednesday, September 28, 2016

in praise of my creekside path

According to various sources, the ginkgo tree symbolizes many things: longevity, endurance, peace, hope, vitality, love, and duality. The tree has different meanings in different cultures; it's biologically unique (a so-called "living fossil") and respected for its special properties, but do you know what I like best about the ginkgo tree?

There aren't any on my walking path.

Female ginkgo trees, right around this time of year, start dropping their swollen, crabapple-sized berries on the ground in the thousands and millions. The sidewalks around my office building are littered with them these days. According to local lore, there's a perfect time during which to harvest the fruits in order to make ginkgo products, usually related more to the stones inside the flesh (a.k.a. ginkgo nuts) than to the nasty-smelling—and apparently toxic—flesh itself.

I don't care. A Canadian colleague of mine back at Daegu Catholic used to call these awful little odor bombs "shitberries," but there are those who find the odor more reminiscent of cheese than of dung. Have it your way; whether they remind you of a lactating teat or of a quivering asshole, we can all agree that ginkgo berries stink like homeless lepers.

And not a single ginkgo tree befouls my nightly walk, Cthulhu be praised.

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