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We’ve recently had jacaranda season, and the environment was quite saturated with beautiful, richly hued flowers.

In Brisbane, blue milk, in a post about jacaranda trees, wrote that ‘Because they flower leading into exam time there is a superstition at The University of Queensland that if a flower falls on you you are about to fail an exam’. Reading that, I was immediately reminded of a superstition in Sydney. The University of Sydney has a famous jacaranda tree, and it’s said among students of that university that if you haven’t started studying for exams by the time the tree flowers, you will fail. Sydney’s jacarandas started flowering a bit early this year, I think, because none of my University of Sydney friends had exams when the trees started flowering. I myself, however, had a thesis due about then; I went to tea with my friend Mary, a USyd graduate, the day before my thesis was due, and she joked that I should start writing my thesis if I hadn’t already begun.

It’s funny, you know, how this story mutates, and I like that it does so proximate to places of learning. It seems fitting. But then there are also more hidden jacaranda stories of great power. There’s that 1984 song by Australian band Cold Chisel called “Flame Trees”, which is just an extraordinary song about nostalgia and lost love which still has the power to make me weep. The flame trees of the title are actually a substitute for the beloved jacarandas of Grafton, NSW, which is the hometown of Don Walker, one of the songwriters.

It is just amazing to me that a symbol can mean so much, and the force of its meaning remains even when the content of that meaning changes. Symbols have a potency of their own.