Dry-roasted-salted-cashews, my energy booster for mid-morning snacks, eventually led to researching this critical food for enhancement of organ functioning. Craving more of these delectable nuts signals low blood pressure, so I’m crunching away as I write—only they’re not nuts. More properly, they’re called seeds.

Grown from fruit trees with rich foliage, the dun-colored seeds encased in two thick shells, emerge from the bottom of what looks like red shriveled apples when ripe, between February through May.

YouTube of past harvests show natives seated on the ground, straining to separate the seeds from the fruits; others, weakened by the humidity and heat, involved in the multiple phases of production—all, strenuous work, required before filling porcelain bowls of wealthy colonialists in Brazil, Goa, and India in their sitting rooms. Today, machines and uniformed workers handle the cashew harvests in different parts of the subtropical world.

What also prompted this inquiry were the acknowledgements printed on the Whole Foods bag of cashews, near my computer; among them was the Product of Vietnam. Only in 1989 did this government recognize the industrial value of their cashews and included their production and export in the Ministry of Agriculture. It now holds fifty-eight percent of the world market, outstripping Brazil and India with its sixty-two factories, its machines locally made and serviced. This country holds fifty-eight percent of the world market, outstripping Brazil and India with its sixty-two factories, its machines locally made.

Discovered as edible by Brazilian natives in the sixteenth century, cashews have been around a long time, still a viable source of nutrition afforded us by Creator God.

Sixteen years ago, we met: a mature sweet gum tree shading the front of my new bungalow with rich green foliage. It had survived the city’s removal of a large limb, its wound long healed.

Months passed, before spotting a solitary yellow leaf laying on the grass, its stem dormant, announcing the change. I looked up. Still largely green, occasional bi-colored leaves hung on the branches. The surprise was unfurling like swirls of colorful cloths shown at auction: scarlets, lime greens, buttery yellows, and thievery browns.

For several weeks, the show continued until its demise: mounds of faded shriveled leaves strewn around the yard, later raked and bagged for the city’s yard waste pick-up. Stripped from my natural beauty, I grieved. It would be a long wait for its return.

As years passed, the sweet gum tree continued prospering, with more bags of gum balls lined at the curb for the city’s pick-up.

Then, the disruption began: 2021’s violent rain storms wrenched two large branches from the trunk leaving large swaths of exposed wood. Its woundedness remained with us until three weeks ago, when another large limb crashed to the street, with nothing precipitating this loss. The sweet gum tree was ailing and the arborist’s response was to take it down. A red cord, now circling the trunk, will enable the crew to identify it.

The analogy between the ailing sweet gum tree all that lives, including ourselves, is obvious, but our spirits continue on.

We wait for the inevitable.

Sleep, one of the symptoms of my terminal illness, is shrink-wrapping my gift of twenty-four-hour living.

Your will, not mine, be done.

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