I will never forget the first time I heard a co-worker exclaim, “Dad gummit!” in complete frustration over a problem we were trying to solve. At first, I thought I heard her wrong, so I asked her to repeat what she said. After a repeat of the phrase confirmed I had indeed heard what I thought I had, I finally laughed and said I’d never heard that before. Nobody seemed to know where the phrase originated, but it was obvious how it came to be. Though not a phrase of mock profanity I use myself, I have heard it many times over the thirty years I have lived in Oklahoma.
Of course I have had many instances where the phrase applied to the frustration I felt about problematic issues. In the months since I finally broke down and got an iPhone X, I have been cursing the new device. It is so large it only fits in a couple of my work pants pockets, and is much heavier than my old iPhone 5S. It also has a lot of bells and whistles I’ll never use. The one thing that I do love, is that the phone camera is a big improvement over my old iPhone model.
However, I soon realized that my high-tech phone would not allow me to move photos to my desktop computer, where I enjoy doing my writing. I will never do blog posts from my iPhone or iPad. Never. I love the “bigness” of seeing everything on my large monitors, and being able to view and edit easily. So not having access to my photos, had me frustrated for months.
The only photos I could easily access were those from the camera card on my DSLR. I found myself limited, especially when I was in the pen with Tukker deer. The iPhone made it so easy to take photos, where my DSLR and zoom lens were cumbersome and I had to carry different lenses for various situations. And, as the number of images stuck on my phone reached more than five-hundred, I became infuriated. Even FD looked at the problem and couldn’t solve it.
Exasperated, I knew I had to calm down and find a way. There had to be a way. And there was. I discovered it myself. And even though it was a long and tedious process, and not all that organized, at last I had the images extracted from the phone and on my desktop. I did not feel elated when I finished the process. I was simply glad the task was finished and that I now knew how to get images off of the phone. Later, I felt grateful as I flipped through photographs I had long forgotten.
And there it was as I flipped through my images – a lone photograph of an unknown fruit or berry tree on the far west end of the orchard property. For years, I believed the tree to be an Osage Orange, also called Bois d’arc in these parts (Maclura pomifera), because it had small thorns on the branches. Admittedly though, I never really looked at the leaves or the trunk and bark, I just assumed. Now, looking at a photograph I had taken back in October, showing the tree had put off a bounty of fruit, it was clearly not an Osage Orange.
I think sometimes, the harder we focus on something, the more elusive it becomes. For weeks after discovering the tree loaded with bluish-black fruit, I researched trees of Oklahoma and could not come up with anything that matched my photo. Eventually, I gave up the research, but each time I passed by that tree in our Kawasaki Mule, I wondered about it.
In time, the fruits disappeared. I knew wildlife must have enjoyed those luscious treats. Perhaps I could have foraged these fruits for Tukker deer if only I had known they were safe for him to eat. Now that I had the photograph to look at, I tried researching again. And oddly, whatever key words I punched in Google that day, worked. An image similar to mine popped up, which led me to The University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. There, I found a perfect description of the tree I had been looking for, along with a series of photos that unmistakably named my mystery tree a Gum Bumelia (Sideroxylon lanuginosum). The fruits of this tree are called drupes. Even the multi-trunked appearance and spiny stems and branches rang true in the description. My first silly thought was, “The Dad Gum (emphasis on GUM) mystery is finally solved”!
You know me, I’ll be out there at the west end come June, and maybe into July, waiting to photograph the sweet, fragrant blossoms that will provide benefits to bees in spring and summer. In October, I will be sampling some of these tasty fruits for myself and, if I’m lucky, Tukker deer may still be around to share them with me.
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