What if the maple leaves don’t turn red? Just wait for the next spring


2021 can be said to be the first year of maple trees in Silicon Valley. Why? This has to do with remote work again. Before the sudden outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, no one would have thought about maple trees, and Silicon Valley people didn’t have much time to care about the relationship between the courtyard and us. Then everyone was forced to stay at home, and the courtyard suddenly became very important, so the nursery business also flourished. During the pandemic, all industries related to living environment were thriving.

If you walk into a large nursery in the spring of 2021, you will see a whole new batch of Japanese maples at the entrance. There are many varieties of Japanese maples, and each one is beautiful. The advantage is that they can be planted in pots and placed in any corner of the yard to create a unique Eastern beauty, like buying a decoration, without waiting for 10 years to see the results. So everyone is rushing to plant Japanese maples, which is the fastest way to create a landscape. The nursery said that business is ten times better than before the pandemic. Prices have also risen from the previous 80-90 yuan per pot to 200-300 yuan.

During the pandemic in 2021, we bought nine different degrees of bloody maples, including “Emperor’s Blood”, “Good Blood”, “Purple Blood” and various ghosts. The names of Japanese maples are so bloody and terrifying, either “blood” or “ghost”. When we bought them in the spring, these maples were all beautiful, with various colors. The colors of Japanese maples are also displayed in the spring, and the same tree will have different levels of color.

This pot of “Emperor’s Blood” is so stunning in the spring:

Then summer came, and all nine maple trees were like teenagers who suddenly turned their faces overnight–the leaves slowly curled and turned yellow. I looked it up online and found that Japanese maples are not suitable for planting in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s too hot for them in Silicon Valley. The summer heat here will roast them to death, and the burnt leaves shown in Google Images are exactly the same as this photo. They are heading towards death.

The days are getting hotter and hotter, and the maple leaves are curling and turning yellow. Three months ago, the once-blood-red leaves are disappearing one by one. Japanese maples are not suitable for the place I live in, they can’t even survive the first summer. These maple trees can only tolerate heat levels of 5 to 8, San Francisco barely makes it at 9, while other places in Silicon Valley are at 10, which is already beyond the limit of the Japanese maple’s heat tolerance. However, when I bought them, I had no idea, and of course, the nursery wouldn’t tell me. It’s like being a new parent, no one knows how to raise a child, and no one knows if they will turn bad in the future, and what to do if they do.

Planting Japanese maples for the first time is like raising a child for the first time – every child is smart and cute when they are young, and no one thinks that they will turn bad one day.

As the summer gets hotter and hotter, and the whole tree is left with only withered leaves, and with the Indian summer coming soon, I know they won’t survive this year. Google says that if the weather is too hot, you should keep watering them to help them cool down. So, throughout the summer and autumn, I kept watering the nine dead Japanese maples.

Soon, they all looked like this, leaving only one or two leaves to reminisce about the good old days.


That child was covered in blood, walking aimlessly alone on the street at 1 am. Someone saw him and called the police, who arrested him. The reason for his arrest was that half an hour ago, he had a serious argument with his parents and went to the kitchen to grab a knife and killed them. Covered in blood, his parents’ blood, this child walked alone in the dark for 2 kilometers. The mother died on the spot, and the father was later sent to the hospital. And he was only 14 years old. This is a true story that happened in a Silicon Valley city last summer when the Japanese maples died.

Because it was a case of a minor killing his parents, neither the prosecutor nor the police talked about the details of the case. The media did not follow up on the story afterwards. People only knew about the short 30-second news clip that aired that night.

For several days, I kept thinking about this tragedy. The whole family of three were victims, and no one knows who suffered the most. If I dare to be immoral and discuss it, perhaps the deceased mother was the luckiest. I don’t know how the father, who later recovered, will face the rest of his life. He lost his wife and a living son. Will he love him, hate him, or hate himself – hate himself for not being able to prevent this tragedy? I have no idea how the 14-year-old boy will face the long years ahead of him. Will he have a normal future? What kind of dreams will he live in for the rest of his life? He is not a murderer or an offender, perhaps he is the most tragic victim.

They are all victims. There is no offender here. They are all victims of hormones.
I started thinking about these things because my child was once clever and adorable before elementary school. But one day, during puberty, they suddenly changed overnight, and the extent of the change left me at a loss. From then on, we entered a long period of darkness. Some say it takes two or three years to get through, some say five or six years, and some say they never had this problem… For me, it doesn’t matter. I encountered it, and no matter how long it takes, I have to endure it. There is no other choice but to endure – to compromise and coexist. You could say it’s just surviving, but it’s the only way.

This is not an educational issue, not a matter of principle, and not a matter of right or wrong. Don’t get confused, those can only be used in times of peace. You can’t compare other people’s children either. Every child in the world is different, and every child’s hormonal response is different. The child is not wrong, you are not wrong, and no one in the previous generation did anything wrong. There’s no need to ask the heavens in despair. It’s better to take this complaint and learn how to peacefully coexist with hormones. If you refuse to learn or can’t learn, you will definitely lose, and you will definitely regret it.

These things keep appearing in our lives, but schools don’t teach them, and books are full of empty platitudes. No one talks about this, and no one knows how to deal with it. Everyone thinks it’s a matter of right or wrong because people don’t know they’re fighting against chemistry, not people. This is not a parenting class or a psychology class. This is a chemistry class.

I have a friend who first exchanged insults and then fought with his son, and it ended with the police coming to handcuff both of them. If there had been a gun in the house, it might have been used. I believe that every parent who wonders what sins they committed in their past lives doesn’t realize they’re actually facing a chemical problem.

Another friend complained that his son, who had just entered puberty, kept breaking his heart. I said it’s not your son who’s breaking your heart, it’s the hormones. The responsibility of hormones is to break your heart, and you’re facing a chemical reaction. If there’s an apple tree in the yard that’s not growing well, would you curse the tree? Would you be heartbroken for it? Just be patient and keep watering it. If it doesn’t grow well this year, it will grow well next year, or the year after that. You have to be absolutely rational and not use your temper. Hormones will eventually fade away, so don’t be heartbroken for them. He smiled and thanked me.

This is a very down-to-earth method, but unless you have higher wisdom, at least this method won’t cause the tragedies in those stories.

And then one day, my son suddenly changed back to being understanding and considerate like when he was younger. It happened so suddenly, and it left me feeling at a loss again. I remember that day, I kept silently thanking myself – I didn’t have to thank him, he didn’t do anything right or wrong, because he didn’t even know what had happened. He didn’t even know he had changed before. I thanked myself for persisting in using the down-to-earth method of peacefully coexisting with hormones all the way through.

The feeling of finally getting through it is really good.
Winter has arrived, and the maple tree has completely withered. It looks like a dead tree. Online, it says that if you want to know if a maple tree is still alive, you just need to gently bend a small branch. If it doesn’t break immediately, it means it’s still alive. Withering does not mean death. You must keep watering it and patiently wait for the next spring.

I was worried all winter and tried to bend the branches every few weeks. Sometimes, even though the branch didn’t break, it was bent and didn’t immediately spring back. I didn’t know if it was still alive.

Spring arrived, and all the other plants in the yard were thriving. Looking at the tiny green buds on the branches, I looked back at the still withered maple tree and doubted myself. Last year’s continuous 40-degree heat had already roasted them to death. All that watering was for nothing.

In early March, the two hibernating squirrels woke up again and started picking the most expensive flower buds in the backyard. They ate the flower hearts like they were eating sunflower seeds and threw away the old petals. They also started playing the game of “123 wooden man” with me again. The yard was full of greenery, but the nine Japanese maple trees were still lifeless with no new branches or buds. I began to calculate how much hope these nine trees had wasted.

Last week, it was hot for a few days, and it rained for the first time in two months. I was busy with work and didn’t go to the backyard for a whole week. Today, it rained all day, and I went to clean up the bird food. If I didn’t clean it up and it rained, the grains would sprout, which was disgusting.

But just a week later, all nine maple trees, which were once lifeless, had come back to life and returned to their various colors from last spring. The feeling was like seeing a rebellious child suddenly returning to the right path. It was really just one week – almost like the child had returned to being understanding.

It seems that they have all survived – we have all survived. Enduring and waiting for the next spring not only helps ourselves but also helps others. As long as we are still alive, there will always be another spring, and the maple leaves will surely turn red again, and children will surely get through their rebellious phase. Some things can only be waited for slowly.

In my first year in the workplace, I met an elderly white mother who took care of me very much. I learned a lifelong lesson from her: don’t confront hormones head-on, give them a cup of coffee and let them naturally fade away. Thinking about the human tragedy in Silicon Valley, if those parents had held back and swallowed their anger, maybe everything wouldn’t have happened, and the next spring would have come soon. Hormones also need rest. Giving them a way out may prevent them from coming back.

Yes, the pictures below were all taken today. A week ago today, I absolutely couldn’t believe I would see such a scene. From death to life, it only took seven days. I made it through.

Looking at these pictures, thinking about the scene five months ago, and thinking about that human tragedy, I decided to finish this article quickly.