Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: Jorge's Trees
By Betty Castleberry
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I make sure they understand God gets the credit, but in part, I agree with them. God gave me the desire and skills to farm. Ever since I was a little boy, I watched my father and my grandfather working on the farm, and I wanted to do what they did. When I got older, my father let me swing his machete through the vines to clear a path to the trees. The first time he let me do this, I knew I had become a man.
Today, I know a great deal about the trees in my care. From the time they are only a foot high and come out of the nursery, they are mine.
Come, amigo. Let me show you my trees. I have many, in various stages. Over there are the small ones I just mentioned. See how they stretch upward, reaching through the lacy shade of the banana plants and coconut palms to absorb the sunlight? I plant them under the protective umbrella of the bigger trees so their tender young leaves will not burn.
Right here are some trees that are a little older. They will soon produce fruit, hopefully next year.
Let me show you the trees that are fruiting now. I will pick a pod for you. Do you see how it is football shaped? It doesn’t look like you thought it would, does it? The prize is inside. This variety is not common. It is reserved for only the finest connoisseurs. Sniff. Exquisite, isn’t it?
My trees are very special. “Jorge,” my friends say, “You trees are legendary. Their fruits are the stuff of dreams.”
I blush, and just say “Thank you,” but it’s true. Many people in the world would be very sad if my trees died or did not produce fruit.
Yesterday, I walked into the village, and Sylvia ran to me. Her dark eyes were sparkling, and she hugged me. “Jorge, thank you. Pedro and I shared some of your produce last night, and now he has asked me to marry him.”
I was happy for her, although I wish it had been me she had shared with. I’ve always admired her smooth brown skin and lovely smile. No matter. I will give some to Maria. She is lovely, too.
“Jorge,” I often hear, “I am glad you are a farmer. You have made me very happy. I was feeling really down, and then I had some of your produce. Almost instantly, I felt a lot better. Thank you, Jorge.”
The oldest woman in the village claims she has had produce from trees like mine every day for as long as she can remember. The last time I visited her, she took my hand in her thin, blue veined one. “Jorge, you are as good a farmer as your father and grandfather. I don’t know what I would do without your crop. It keeps me young.”
Just the other day, my little cousin Magdalena came to see me. She was jumping up and down like children will do, and slipped. She looked pitiful, laying there, her pretty skirt streaked with sticky brown mud, and a red grape of a bruise forming on her knee. She sat, stunned, for just a second, and then began to cry.
I picked her up and dabbed at her knee with my hankie. “It’s all right.” She kept crying, until I offered her some of my produce.
She patted my cheek. “Uncle Jorge, I love you.” I told her I loved her, too, then gave her some more.
My work is hard, and the hours are long. My trees love the sauna they grow in, but sometimes, I do not. I do love my job, though, and I am good at it.
I hope you do not think I am bragging. I am really no one special. I just make people happy by tending my trees and making sure they are healthy and produce a lot of fruit, which will in turn produce a lot of beans. It is my wish that the fruit I grow reaches those who really relish it. I am just the farmer, the small one. The companies who process my produce have names like Godiva, Hershey’s, and Ghirardelli.
The next time you eat a chocolate bar, or drink a cup of cocoa, think of Jorge for just a moment, will you?
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