The Battle For The Avocados
Wednesday June 10, 2020
Covid-19 quarantine here in our home in Armenia, Colombia these past 3 months has had its difficult, its wonderful, and its hilarious moments. Our battle for the avocados is one of the hilarious moments.
It's actually a drama that has enfolded over many weeks now, and that has included a lovely natural setting, various actors and actresses, and a several-times-a-day struggle for who finally ends up with the avocados.
The plot of the drama has gone like this...
In front of our house is a large avocado tree. It stands beside a fence that encloses our housing complex, and separates it from the steep forested ravine on the other side. About half of the avocado tree's branches hang over the property of our complex - the other half hang over the ravine.
For the first time that I can remember, our avocado tree has borne fruit this year. And when I say borne fruit, I mean lots and lots and lots of fruit. I'm talking literally hundreds of beautiful, big, super-healthy, absolutely delicious avocados. Every day for the past almost 100 days, several amazing avocados have been falling from the tree to the ground to our greatest delight. Now, because the tree is so close to the fence, quite a few of the avocados have fallen down into the ravine - and well, those are lost to us anyway. But many have fallen on our side of the fence - and here is where the drama has played itself out every single day.
You see, the story is not that simple. We have an "enemy". Well, maybe enemy is a bit overdone. But we do have a rival, a nemesis. The fallen avocados don't just lie there until we discover them, or until we go to pick them up at some point in time. Oh no! We have animal friends called "guatines" who live in the ravine, and who have been our fiercest foes in the battle for the avocados. For those of you who don't know what "guatines" are, they are South American rodents from the guinea pig family, but bigger and with longer legs. Ours here in Colombia are brown, and although they have proven to be quite a pest in our struggle for the avocados, they really are quite cute.
Anyway, as I said, the ripe avocados don't just fall from the tree and then sit there and wait until we decide to go pick them up. No! When we hear an avocado drop to the ground, the combat begins instantly. I drop whatever I'm doing, rush out the door, and run to the avocado tree, looking for the fallen fruit in the grass, amongst the exposed tree roots, down the small dead-leaves-covered slope above the fence. I have this process down to an art - it takes me about 10 seconds. If I don't move immediately, if a moment of hesitation or a few moments of laziness overcome me, I know I will have lost the battle. Because even my well-crafted 10-second system usually means I have taken too long, and I've arrived too late! Can you believe it? By the time I get there, there are usually 3 or 4 guatines there already, doing the same as me: looking for the fallen avocado. Except their noses are better than mine, and their tiny legs are quicker than mine - and they usually find the avocado, bite into it with their sharp teeth and scurry away with it, down the slope and through a hole in the fence, before I have even blinked.
Now, I don't mind if the guatines get a few avocados every now and then. They're hungry too - they need to eat too. But I can't believe how, as the weeks and months of our avocado harvest have continued, the guatines have perfected their own art of avocado-scavenging - and somedays we're lucky if we as a family manage to pick up just one avocado before our little animal friends get them all.
And then, there's the night-time avocado drops. I wake up at 3 in the morning to the sound of a loud "plop" somewhere under the avocado tree, and in my sleepy daze I think: it's dark, I'm in my PJs in bed, I'm only half-awake, I'll just have to let that avocado go. So, "Guatines: be my guest - the avocado is all yours!" - I say out loud into the night, because of course the guatines can hear me and understand me! And, although I'm frustrated that I lost that particular battle, I roll over and go back to sleep.
Recently, there have been more actors in this drama. Squirrels. Pesky little squirrels. And I have come to the conclusion that one day the squirrels must have discussed the matter of the avocado battle with the guatines, and since then they are working together. Now that the avocados are riper on the branches, the squirrels hop from branch to branch, chew on them until the stem separates from the branch and the avocado falls. And... the guatines are waiting on the ground, front paws open, ready to catch them and run away with them before I have even gotten out our front door. It's true! As I sit here, I can see a squirrel working away on one of the avocados high up in the tree - and I can see at least one guatin waiting on the ground - for just the right moment when the fruit drops. I don't stand a chance! I would have to set up vigil under the avocado tree like the guatines (with the added danger of having a falling avocado drop directly on my head and, at the least, knock me out completely!) and then maybe, just maybe, I would be quicker than these scurrying rodents and be able to enjoy an avocado for lunch.
So... besides having provided our daily exercise and drama and laughter and tasty delight for the past several months, what have I learned from this battle for the avocados?
I have learned that life is a struggle and a battle, sometimes even over small seemingly insignificant things like avocados -- While on earth, Jesus alerted His disciples: "In this world you will have trouble and tribulation, many trials and sorrows..." (John 16:33)
I have learned that, in order to deal with the struggle and to win the battle, I need to perfect my strategy -- As the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (6:11)
I need to know who my foe is, whether he is a "guatin", a squirrel -- or satan himself, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10)
I need to learn how he operates, and figure out how to outwit him -- "Satan, you say... But Jesus says..." (Matthew 4:10)
I need to have my ears more attuned to the sound of ripe fruit falling, so I don't miss my opportunities to enjoy a delicious treat -- those many good and perfect gifts coming down to us from God our Father in heaven. (James 1:17)
I need to learn to be quicker and more agile in my pursuit of that fruit, and that I can't hesitate or feel lazy for even a moment if I want to end up with it on my plate -- "I will hurry, without delay, to obey Your commands." (Psalm 119:60)
I need to learn to see the fruit better and faster amidst all the grass and leaves and roots in my path of life -- "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people." (Ephesians 1:18)
I have learned that I simply need to persist - and if I don't win once or twice or three times, I need to keep persisting until I DO win. Because eventually I will, if I stay with it long enough -- "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)
And I have learned that sometimes I DO just need to let some things go - as much as I would love to go for them, and have them, and hang onto them -- "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" (Isaiah 43:18-19a)
Today, the guatines must have been happy. We were gone all day. So every avocado that dropped was theirs without a fight. But what they don't know is that I will be home all day tomorrow. So tomorrow our battle for the avocados will resume. And I'm determined to win.
Tomorrow I WILL be eating avocado for lunch!
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