One day about five and a half years ago, when I was living in Vermont (a time, by the by, when my student debt was only half—half!—of what it is today), I was hungry, so I bought an avocado at the general store for about a dollar.
Okay, that’s a bit misleading, because yeah I was hungry, but I also had a much larger plan. I ate the avocado, and then I suspended the pit in some water, and I waited for it to hatch. If you have ever done this, you know that it can take many weeks. This one was particularly slow to awaken. I started the pit in April, and the first crack appeared in August. So I named her August.
August grew roots, and a sprout, and the sprout grew leaves. I transplanted her into a pot with soil, and she grew taller. I watered her carefully and picked off her dead leaves. She moved to Boston with me, her pot anchored on the floor between the two front seats of the moving truck, and she moved with me twice more within the city after that. I always put her next to the best window in whatever apartment I was living in so that she could see the sun.
August was tough: she survived a cat attack, a hurricane, and many long weekends without water. She never produced any avocados (whether due to age, sterility, lack of pollination, or simply lack of desire, I never knew), but she continued to shoot a new green leaf out of her top every couple of months. She was smart, too: she’d sprout an extra crop of three or four leaves all at once in early January, just after the days had started to get longer again, as though she wanted to let me know that even though there were blizzards raging outside, the light was starting to return, and spring was approaching.
August made it to the winter of 2015, when, feeling guilty about keeping her in the same small pot for years and concerned that her roots needed more space, I ordered a large pot from Amazon and repotted her. And I watered her a lot, because I didn’t want her to be in shock from the transplant.
But it was too much water, and the pot didn’t have any holes for drainage, and I didn’t realize any of this it until it was too late. And now my wise, patient green friend is no longer standing next to the window.
* * *
I learned a lot from August during our time together:
August taught me that small things matter, and that small things, if cared for, can grow into much bigger things.
She taught me that patience is key, and that most things that are truly worthwhile take years to develop.
And most of all, she taught me that meaning and money vary independently from one another. I think we all already know this in our hearts, but a gentle reminder from a three-foot-high avocado tree who provided friendship, wonder, and a constant supply of new green leaves for nearly five years, and who cost a grand total of $1.00, doesn’t hurt.
I realize this is kind of a weird post for a personal finance blog,
but I just felt like writing about August today.
We’ll be back to slightly more typical money-related musings next week.
In the meantime, thanks for reading.