It was exactly one year ago that our first child was born. When we brought Cass home from the hospital we also carried with us his placenta, and in the light rain that had started falling I dug a hole, placed the placenta along with the amniotic sac and umbilical cord into it, and planted an avocado tree over the top.


Cass's tree

Why take the placenta home from the hospital and plant a tree over it? Because it’s not mere “biohazardous waste,” as the bag the hospital stored it in stated. And because the placenta is a nutrient-dense organ whose decomposition in the soil will over time feed the tree. In other words, instead of treating the placenta like trash I wanted to treat it like a resource. And it also makes the tree planted at the same time as the birth of Cass that much more connected to him. Literally, a part of him is growing that tree.

The tree is a Fuerte, the kind of avocado that becomes a spreading jungle of branches that are perfect for climbing in. I climbed in Fuerte avocado trees in Glendora when I was young, as did my parents while they were growing up. It feels like a tradition that should carry on. By the time Cass is big enough to be able to climb a tree, this tree should be big enough to handle his weight. They’ll grow up together. They’ll also live off each other, in a way — the Fuerte using nutrients from his placenta and Cass eating the tree’s fruit.

Once the tree was planted and I spread some woodchip mulch around its base, the light rain that was falling became heavier, and I was glad I didn’t have to water the tree in. The clouds did so for me.

Ursula had been awake much of the previous night feeding and worrying about Cass; he was our first child. But after I got the tree planted she was able to take a nap, and Cass also slept, beside me in the living room. I watched the godsend of a storm through the window. It had been the driest year on record. We were in the middle of a multi-year drought. This was the first real rain we’d had all winter. For that moment all felt right with the world.

Cass and his Fuerte both at one year old

Urs with Cass and his Fuerte, both at one year old

You might like to read: “Cass and his Fuerte turn two.”

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