Monday, April 18, 2005

Plant Life

Yesterday was my thirty-third birthday. Our primary celebratory activity was the planting of a tree in our miniscule front yard.

It's a Japanese maple, "bloodgood" cultivar. If any of the words following "It's a" in the preceding sentence made sense to you, then you are far beyond where I was 48 hours ago. I knew that trees are tall plants. I knew that there exist trees called maple trees, which are prized for their tasty syrup, which they extrude in the form of squeezable corpulent black women. I knew that on those rare moments when my feet are not on pavement, concrete, or brick, they are on a stain-causing and structurally unstable substance called "soil."

Here's my concern about the tree. My wife and I do not exactly have green thumbs. We barely have thumbs. A houseguest recently gave us a beautiful pot of pansies, blooming and firmly planted in a sample of the aforementioned "soil." My understanding was that these flowers would last more or less forever, as long as we watered them and potentially transplanted them into a larger amount of "soil." Well, that was a mistake. In the space of two weeks, the pansies have become droopy little wilted shreds. If they're not dead, they're in a persistent vegetative state. We found out that the houseguest who gave them to us is returning in a couple weeks, and we're in a scramble to determine what to do. Do we replace the pansies? Do we 'fess up to our ineptitude? Do we clock our guest over the head with the pot when she comes into our house, so she'll be unconscious and unaware of the plant's death?

The only plant I've ever had that had any significant lifespan was a three-inch cactus that I had in college. The beer-humidity in my room kept it alive and kicking, I suppose. That bad boy lasted a couple years.

Everything else green I touch dies. I stay away from people on St. Patrick's day.

So why the hell did we buy a tree? Not only did it cost over $100, but it is now inextricably tied to the event of my birthday. At my wife's request, I took some photos of it after we planted it. She wants to take pictures of it on each succeeding birthday, to track its growth. But here's what I see: On my 34th birthday, I'll go out there and snap some pictures that confirm little change. It will still be a sickly young plant fighting hard against the cruelties we will have imposed on it. On my 35th birthday, it will still be stunted in growth, and its branches will be falling away. On my 36th birthday, I'll be photographing kindling that has come to rest in a small pile in the "soil."

We named the tree Mabel. Poor Mabel. She has no idea what she's in for.


Blogger Henry Baum said...

I think it's time to have a kid.

Happy Birthday. You're older than me by two months.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

happy belated! (you're older than me, too) ;D

and my sincerest condolences to the tree...

10:56 PM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Henry: That thought (re the kid) has crossed our minds. However, kids are even harder to care for than plants, from what I understand. Apparently, you have to shuttle them back and forth between indoors and outdoors, instead of just leaving them in one place and periodically dousing them with water. Sounds complicated.

Jenn: Thanks, from the tree and me.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Henry Baum said...

I would say it’s easier to raise a child. She keeps growing an inch a day, but our plants have always been wilted and yellowing. I don’t think you’ll ever forget to douse a child with milk.

12:38 PM  

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