This wasn’t a life for just anyone, but it was a living at least. Rushing from town to town, job to job, identity to fresh identity. It takes a toll, and fairly rapidly.
Needing to always be careful to not let the current identity slip and reveal is hard enough. But it needs must be done. In every town I visit, there is someone who knows things, who is planning something, who may be susceptible to a delicate touch if the right weapon is available. I am the weapon. I am the light touch.
I am deployed to calm the waters and prevent the storm, to safeguard the peace.
It is a sacred duty, handed down the family in an unbroken line for generations.
The tree is in our care.
The tree must be protected.
Neither blight nor pests allowed.
We feed and water according to a plan set out by our forefathers. Once or twice a decade we prune severely, other years we use judgment. Once or twice in each caretaker’s life, we move a graft to a new rootstock. We treat the grafts like their parent tree, knowing they can replace the original at any time.
Today the orange grove extends for acres, and presiding over it all is a grand tree with a trunk large enough that you can’t reach around it.
The grove has often survived flood and fire. This year, both nearly at once.