The female gingkos have finally dropped their seeds. The smell of the seeds are, for a nanosecond, sweet and alluring, but that quickly transcends to a suffocating, gag inducing odor. Strictly speaking, it is the outer coating of the seeds, the fleshy part, that has the aroma. The seeds, divested of this layer, are considered medicinal and helpful in memory enhancement.

The gingko is often referred to as the fossil tree as fossils from the tree go back 270 million years. Of greater interest is that the gingko is in its own division, class, family and genus and that there have been only three gingkos known. It  is fascinating to think that the smell of the fleshy overcoat of the seed is a smell that has been on this planet for 270 million years.

What animal would have been attracted by the seed, which is relatively large, and how did the tree find itself distributed, as it was, around the world? It isn’t the nature of the fetid smell that intrigues me, it is the ubiquity of the plant and its obvious biological success and that it produced only three species. In a way, it is perfection in nature.

Success is measured by longevity and only longevity. But the creation of something that endures is what is most intriguing. In nature, it must be a crap shoot because of the imponderables. In the world of man, all fads have a chance of longevity, but a micro-percentage are actually successful. English antique furniture is beyond the fad stage. Not that close to the gingko in longevity, however.

 


“Do you dream?” I asked my chair the other morning.

“I am a chair, what would I dream about? Chairs don’t dream. We also don’t sleep.”

“Yes, and I didn’t think they talked until you started talking. Why wouldn’t you dream?”

“The only thing I would dream about is being in an environment that had close to fifty-five percent humidity, getting waxed from time to time and not having anyone tip back on me. Oh, and no pets that like to chew.”

“No desire for world peace?”

“The first thing that any human thinks of is self preservation. And that pretty much stands in the way of world peace.”

“How so?”

“Think about it. If you have two people who think that their self preservation is being threatened by each other, there will not be peace. Furthermore, the concept of self preservation is complicated. It differs from place to place. Some might think self preservation means being allowed to worship their own god. For others, it is amassing fortunes. For others, it is the liberty to do what they wish when they wish and for some it is power. Even though none of these strictly threatens self preservation, they become obstacles to agreement and cooperation.”

“So all you care about is humidity and wax and being left alone?”

“Yes, and not having some teenager tilt back in me stressing my back. Although, strictly speaking, it isn’t just teenagers that do this. Some ill mannered sorts don’t know any better.”

“I can’t tell if you are being sanguine or sarcastic. I mean world peace shouldn’t be such a stretch.”

“You are right, but I don’t look at what I wish would be, I look at what is. There are a lot fewer surprises when you live as I do.”

“No wishes, no dreams, just the facts so to speak.”

“I hope to be around for a long time, so in that respect, I do have a dream. But to wish for a change in human behavior is like wishing for a White Christmas in Miami.”

“And what about Christmas? Do you care about it?”

“Not in the same way you do. For me, it is a celebration and, if I am in someone’s home, I get sat on and learn a lot of things about the world. I like all celebrations. It reminds people of my purpose which is, of course, to be a seat. Not just any seat, mind you, a great one.”

“I think I could warm to your philosophy. It certainly has a pragmatic stamp to it.”

“What do you expect? I am nearly a three hundred year old chair. If I hadn’t figured out who I was by now, I would be delusional.”

That was a very good point.


“The chairs of this world are a fairly savvy bunch,” my chair told me while we were talking about furniture—craftsmanship to be specific—the other day. “Although corporations consider themselves people, they really don’t have a point of view. They have a mandate, which is to make a profit, but if you were to ask any corporation a question about something esoteric, they would behave like someone who was brain washed and try to figure out how it relates to the bottom line.”

“That can color your thinking,” I said.

“You bet it can.”

“So what is it that you want to say about corporations?”

“I wanted to talk about interest rates and what a pathetic job the banks are doing at refinancing people’s mortgages.”

“In what regard?”

“Well, the banks are offering very attractive low interest mortgage rates, but it seems that if you want to qualify for them, you need to be making more than you did before the crash, which for a majority of earners is not the case.”

“Do you mean that they are holding out false hopes to a lot of people?”

“Yes, I do. And what is really bizarre is that they don’t look at the owner’s credit rating or the owner’s payment history. It is as if they have to offer the rate, but make the bar so high to qualify for the mortgage that you can only suspect that they want the processing fee and nothing else. I mean, why lose several percentage points of interest if you can legally deny someone who is a perfectly good credit risk?”

“Beats me,” I said, “but precisely what you are talking about happened to me and to several friends of mine. I had my mortgage company calling every day for a month to get the new low rate and then I was denied a mortgage even though all of what you say is true about me.”

“Corporations are sneaky that way and banks in particular are very sneaky. They really know how to sniff out profits.”

“Do the chairs of the world know whether this is a conspiracy on the part of the banks?” I asked.

“Of course we do.”

“and…?”

“Who would believe a chair?”