Who doesn’t love palm trees? In the past, palms were symbols of victory, peace, and fertility. The Romans rewarded champions of the games and celebrated success in war with palm branches. The South Carolina flag has a palm tree which I did not realize was a palm tree until I asked what was this flag symbol plastered all over the strip clubs. Apparently, palm trees are meant to be a symbol of hospitality. I suppose it is of note that strip clubs are so inviting in the south.
I look at the beautiful palm trees in Los Angeles, I feel happy and feel the full warmth of the sun. Even if the sun is not fully out, sighting a palm tree tricks your brain and body into thinking you are basking in the sun. As such, palm trees can bring you happiness if you revel in heat. Some people prefer the cold, which I do not understand. I can tolerate New York winters but anything stronger than that is not for me. You won’t catch me living in Minnesota anytime soon. Knock on wood.
While I intrinsically love the palm tree, I also have a different visceral reaction, as of late. Before moving back to California, the last time I saw palm trees was when I attended my mother’s funeral in Puerto Rico. Upon exiting the San Juan Airport, you see a set of flags and palm trees. You feel welcomed and at home. That is until you have to say goodbye to a loved one.
When I see palm tree now, I also think of where my mom passed. I am reminded of that song “En mi Viejo San Juan” (English: In my Old San Juan) which expresses the longing for a homeland. And it is in that vein, that I view palm trees. I see them and think of how my mother, my homeland, has gone from this earth. I believe I will always, from here on out, see palm trees in that light. Although, I do see the palm and bask in its glory of warmth. It not only represents the sun but also my mother’s stretched arms.