Dad has passed away; his banana tree lives on
December 09, 2007
I don't very often blog about personal news, but this news is important to me and to those who know that I gained an early education about plants and gardening from my father. His childhood on an 80 acre farm in Indiana gave him a deep interest in plants and nature, which he imparted to me, teaching me about starting seedlings, making compost, how plants grow, and the scientific names of many plants. He often drove me to high school on the way to work, and frequently we would stop by a tree that we were passing so he could teach me its name and features. I took this picture of him last August. He was a popular guy in town--cheerful and kind. At his 100th birthday party last January, the town proclaimed his birthday "Sheldon Peirce Day."
Dad, Sheldon James Peirce, died on November 9th, at the age of 100 years and 9 months. He died peacefully, of no specific cause, falling asleep the day before and never reawakening.
Recently I have been blogging about his banana tree. He transplanted it from a part of the yard where it was suffering too much wind damage 4 years ago, when he was nearly 97. It has set two crops since then. Bananas, being a tropical plant, don't have a yearly cycle. They require 18 months to ripen fruit. Last winter, San Diego County suffered a heavy frost, killing the stem bearing the next crop of bananas. We were afraid that the stem would die and the ripening bananas would be lost, but apparently the frost-killed stem was able to get food through the roots it shared with other stems of the plant, because the fruit did ripen. We ate several raw bananas late last spring, and a bit later, my sister-in-law made banana bread from the rest. He enjoyed it all. At left is a photo of the banana crop of last summer. I don't know the variety, but the fruit is small and firm and doesn't get that "banana oil" flavor, as Dad would put it, that he didn't much like in ripe commercial bananas.
So here is the banana tree, still standing tall, a week after Dad had passed away. The garden lives on. The dwarf avocado has a heavy crop. The guava he planted is 4 feet tall and blooming for the first time. The navel oranges are starting to ripen. And the green nubs of paperwhite daffodil leaves are beginning to push up through soil that finally got some rain last week. Life goes on, and spring is not so far away.