Saturday, August 22, 2015

Chasing dopamine, amygdalin, and death

My brother and I have well over a hundred birthdays between us, but both of us still love to dig holes and find things--living, dead, ancient, new, doesn't really matter--it's the moment just before discovery that matters, Dopamine is dopamine, no matter how you get it.

We needed to clear a small patch of ground for a patio that we'll get done sometime between this lifetime and the next, and while scurrying around like woodchucks, I ripped out a black cherry seedling, and, for whatever reason, sniffed the roots.

I do not know what I expected, but I did not expect the round, deep cherry-almond aroma overwhelming the earthy soil smell.

We both took turns sniffing the roots, like two children in the garden that once was. Under the hypnotic cherry-almond roundness was a hint of something uncertain, unnerving, yet still compelling.

Amygdalin, again.
Sugar and cyanide linked together in a compound with a bitter, incomprehensible allure

I am pulled to amygdalin, always have been--I chew on apple seeds with abandon, will gnaw on a peach pit for literally hours, have since childhood.

I plan to take some black cherry roots back to school. Maybe I'll draw the symbol for amygdalin on the board, maybe I'll bore the class with a minute or two on the life history of a tree native to Bloomfield, and then I'll pass around the root shavings.

For the younger among us, what do you think you would remember 5 decades from now?

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