Mimosas are not only drinks.
Mimosas are trees with delicate fern-like leaves and fluffy pink flowers. My elementary school had a huge mimosa in front, with a low trunk that encouraged climbing, at least after hours when there was no staff looking. During the time that my family was undergoing the worst period that I can remember (the very worst times having been when my sister died, when I was two), I would go to the elementary school and climb the mimosa and feel safe. I was in middle school by that time, but the gate to the elementary school wasn’t locked until nightfall.
That mimosa was my friend and my protector.
I had a lot of other trees in my childhood — the jacaranda down the street, the huge norfolk pine in my front lawn that had been a “live Christmas tree” that my sister had bought when it was three feet tall, the Australian pines down near the beach with the little cones that hurt more than Legos if you stepped on them with bare feet, and the omnipresent palm trees of various species — but I remember mimosas, along with crepe myrtle and live oak, with fondness. Crepe myrtles may be prettier when they bloom, and live oaks have more interesting bark, but mimosas are just … special.
When the Rocket Scientist and I bought our house many years ago, one of the things that I loved was the large mimosa standing sentinel at the top of the driveway, just at the entrance to the walkway. It provided shade in the summer, and a feeling of emotional safety always.
The mimosa has died. It was looking peaked last season, and I made a mental note to get it professionally pruned, but I didn’t. It was looking worse this spring, so in late July we called in an arborist who told us the awful news that due to some damage below the soil line that had happened when we had foundation work done fifteen years ago, as well as a hole in the top of the tree that was invisible from human eye-level, water had gotten inside the trunk and rotted it out. It was only a matter of time. We planned to have it out at the end of August.
Well, we are having it out at the very end of August. Last week the tree started leaning more and more until it was clearly a danger to the house and the cars. So today a crew is coming to our house and taking my mimosa down. I don’t know what we’ll plant in its stead; it feels a little premature talking about that, like we had lost a pet and were talking about a replacement right after burying it. We could, but it seems kind of callous. On the other hand, it would be good to get something in the ground before the rainy season so it can take advantage of all that water.
I feel very sad right now; I’ll miss my mimosa.