Years ago, our very good friends gave us a few sticks off their frangipani tree with instructions to let it cure. At the time they lived in a townhouse that had a huge flowering tree that they had started from a stick given to them by another one of our friends. I envisioned all of the leis I would make with my tree and how beautiful our yard would look and smell. Then I carefully, unintentionally, killed two of the three sticks they gave us.
The third one we planted, doubtful that it would ever grow into quite the spectacle our friends had. But we watered it and checked on it, mixing compost into the soil where it stuck out like a stubby pencil from the ground. Almost two years passed by before it even grew a leaf, but one day it did, quickly followed by another and then another until one crisp morning I spotted a crown of buds rising up from the top of the plant.
About this time every year it blooms and the flowers are just as beautiful and fragrant as I had dreamed they would be. I make sure to send a quick text of thanks to both the family who gave us the stick and the family who started the tradition with them years before that. I have given out sticks from our tree and love that plants are cropping up in other yards to spread the same delight. It feels richer somehow to know there is a giving chain that built the framework for us all.
Years after that I hit the motherlode when I drove by a huge pile of cuttings and stopped to retrieve them. A neighbor had sculpted his own frangipani trees (In a different color!) and had neatly stacked enough of a pile that I cut and kept twenty five and gave away about as many to a few other families. I waited for those to bloom like a new mother would and I still smile when I spy them coming up tucked behind sea grapes and palms and heliconias in the yard.
It has been said that the best things in life are free and I can tell you when you are struggling to make a car payment, or get hit with a repair bill that is hard to get behind. At the end of the night though, when I am recapping the best parts of the day; the times that I smile the biggest, it is the people in my life and the relationships I have that make me feel the richest. That and a few incredibly fragrant flowers…