Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Tree Charlie

There’s a sturdy tree, a Norfolk Island
pine whose name is Charlie; genderwise,
I’m pretty sure that she’s a girl. In any
case, I tend to her as if she were a
croupy child. I’ve given her the finest
spot I can arrange, there being limited
availability of sunny windows
in my little place. She seems to like the
kitchen table, which gets ample daylight
after two p.m. I hydrate her with water
from the tap and feed her evil-smelling
fertilizer; and, when I remember
to, I whisper tenderly in the
direction of where ears might be—you never
know with trees—and play the music of
Franz Schubert, Haydn, Bach, and Telemann—
melodic and conducive to serenity,
for me at least... again, you never know with
trees, and Charlie has her own

Perhaps I’m overly concerned with
Charlie’s growth and day-to-day vitality—
I hover, I confess—but when I’m tempted
to neglect her (she’s a room away from
where I tend to nest, a daunting twelve or
thirteen steps), she shoots me a reminder
in the form of needles turning brown, and
Charlie sheds at an alarming rate. So
I pretend that she’s my sacred self. It
helps not only for recalling that it’s
time for her to have a drink and that I
have to turn her now and then, but also
for my tendency to see her as an
ornament, ignoring, temporarily,
what makes her Charlie—not inanimate but
living and respiring and essential
as the U.N., my attentive next-door
neighbor, and the light and air we all
depend on if we want to breathe, which
I do, constantly. With this in mind, I
have to hope she doesn’t prematurely
die of some arboreal disease; and
when her time with me, beside my kitchen
window, has to end, as is the way of
things for indoor trees, I’ll know I treated
her with more than kindness but with awe and
reverence, I don’t mind saying, for her
soul, forever fresh and green in
some sweet, fragrant heaven that’s reserved for
noble creatures such as Charlie and her
brother-sister trees.

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