My day started slowly, with me drinking coffee and eating one of the scones I make from a mix to which I add gobs of high-fiber ingredients – flax, walnuts, cereal dust, oats, et cetera – then watering all the potted plants before the heat turns them to dust, and re-planting some cute little succulents a deer had dislodged.
Then I watered some more, and then I cried.
I didn’t cry about my health status, although that is an ongoing source of recurring uncertainty and dismay. My CA 125 numbers, having finally reversed their trajectory, are only down to about 3100. Not a happy number when it comes to CA 125. And although the most recent CT scan shows “stable metastatic disease”, or no significant new growth, something about the functioning of my intestines is leading me to suspect the tumors are messing with me.
But I wasn’t crying about that. It was the pomegranates. I was crying about the last few baby pomegranates having fallen from the two trees I’ve finally taken to nurturing properly, after years of quasi-neglect, with bi-weekly soaks of water and rich, organic fertilizer dug in around the drip line. Although the pomegranates have never grown to normal size in the past, or ripened to the sweet & tangy succulence for which they’re prized, this is the first year they have so thoroughly aborted.
We planted the trees in 1992, after my mother’s death. They were a memorial to both my parents – my father for the pomegranates he so assiduously propagated and nurtured, and my mother for the jelly she so arduously cooked up from the fruit. Since they’re supposed to thrive in Mediterranean climates, and need a long, hot summer to do well, I assumed they’d do great here and sort of left them to their own devices once they were established. Of course what I hadn’t taken into account was that our micro-climate lacks the sea air inherent to the concept of Mediterranean. We have something more like Mediterranean mixed with Mojave. When people in Napa are suffering from heat waves reaching the mid-90s, we’re watching oak leaves turn brown under summer highs of 110° or more, which can happen even when Napa is being caressed by refreshing ocean breezes. So pomegranates, which under my father’s care thrived in San Fernando Valley heat and pollution as it existed in the middle of the 20th Century, do not fare so well in this pristine, Northern California, 21st Century heat sink on steroids. Maybe we need more pollution to hold the moisture in. (Our air is so pure the lace lichen hangs in sultry swaths from our oak trees.) Or maybe we need less heat. But it seems we’re not heading in that direction. And so I cry.
A few years ago I read Philip Roth’s The Plot against America, and the past few months I’ve been reminded of it frequently. Roth’s novel starts in the 1940s, and follows a fairly logical train of events that might have ensued had Charles Lindbergh run for election against Roosevelt. I’ve thought of the story because of Trump’s unexpected success in sweeping away whatever reasonable and ethical vestiges were left of the GOP. When I came across an AP article (seeded on this site) comparing Trump’s “America First” slogan with the America First Campaign of WWII-era United States, which is a premise of Roth’s novel, I realized I hadn’t been far off in my spontaneous association.
I won’t go into every possible resemblance of Trump’s effect (and potential effects) on the nation to the Lindbergh character in Roth’s novel, but I will quote this from the book (with option to substitute names):
Lindbergh [Trump] was the first famous living American whom I learned to hate—just as President Roosevelt was the first famous living American whom I was taught to love—and so his nomination by the Republicans to run against Roosevelt [Clinton] in 1940  assaulted, as nothing ever had before, that huge endowment of personal security that I had taken for granted as an American child of American parents in an American school in an American city in an America at peace with the world. (Roth, Philip, The Plot against America, Vintage International, 2004, p. 7)
And I’ll go on to say that if there was ever any hope of us making an impact on the climate change that is without doubt helping drive our summer temperatures to unprecedented heights, and is threatening the vulnerable areas of the earth with uncontrollable fire, drought and suffering, and is decimating my hopes of ever seeing my pomegranate trees produce heavenly offspring, that hope will be dashed to the ground along with the immature fruits should Trump [Drumpf] prevail with his distasteful, disturbing and disingenuous “America First” campaign.
And that would be reason to cry.