I must confess something to you. I have been known on occasion to brag up my green thumb, yes, its shocking but true. Most of the time I can back that statement up but not now…
Now at this very moment a reddish-brown shriveled husk of a tree sits in my front yard, a testimony to my ignorance and arrogance. I know enough about trees to know better. It is a foolhardy and risky endeavor to plant a tree where one once stood, especially an old sick one. I am guilty of such an offense.
It all started innocently enough. I was at one of my favorite nurseries. I was wandering around like I do when I spied a beautiful tree, it was smallish and covered with tiny white flowers. It was a dwarf Yoshino Ornamental Cherry tree and it had a twin! I get excited by stuff such as that. I almost let out a squeal and start to jump up and down but I contained myself long enough to purchase the trees and arrange for their delivery.
Now I had to figure out where to plant them. I have a habit of falling in love at the nursery and bringing home plants I have no room for. So far it has all worked out, I’ve always found a home for them, but trees are special. You can’t just stick them anywhere and expect them to thrive. But that’s what I did. Right where an old sick one once stood about a year ago.
I guess I thought the tree and I where above such practical nonsense as compaction and nutrient depletion and for a while it seemed that we were.
I was so proud of the trees, they were the first in the neighborhood to bloom. People would stop and gaze appreciatively at them as the passed by. I too, would gaze appreciatively at them and that is what I was doing when I noticed the first brownish leaf. It was just one. I didn’t worry. Then more brown leaves started to appear. I scoured gardening books like I do and found the answer. It was a harmless fungus and it would be O.K. in time. We’d had an unusually wet spring so that made sense to me.
The other healthier tree grew and produced green glossy leaves, While its ugly twin stood there looking sick and depressed. I tried to fed it, I tried some old gardening tricks, to no avail. In the back of my mind, I knew what was wrong, I hoped that everything would turn around.
Now I would avoid the tree like the plague, I couldn’t stand the sight of it. The sight of my failure, for all to see. Where once the tree invoked pleasure in the people walking by. Now people shook their heads and made faces of disgust as they walked by.
Does having a dying tree in my yard make me a bad person? I know people want to ask what I did to the poor thing? I feel so embarrassed. I”ve almost cut it down several times, it small enough for me to do by myself. Something in me won’t let me do it. Maybe I’m holding out hope for the underdog, which I have a habit of doing.
I just can’t give up on this poor wretched tree. So I’m babying it and watering it and even talking to it. It is probably a lost cause but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Please, wish us luck…
Now for epic conclusion to Blue eyed Handsome Cat..
Jacky was counting on me, I couldn’t let him down. I couldn’t just sit there and allow these crazy people to take Jacky. I didn’t want to start a neighborhood war over this, especially from the loud crazy neighbors with the totally ironic last name. Over the years these neighbors had created quite the reputation for themselves. (THAT is quite another story I must share with you in the future). Lets say for now that I feared for Jacky’s well-being.
I considered keeping Jacky in the house forever but I knew that wasn’t the way. Jacky’s a free spirit and locking him up would be impractical and frankly, I think a bit cruel. Jacky mewed at the door, I let him out. I hoped he would return.
M.M, seeing how bothered I was, went over to the ironically named neighbors and spoke the most level-headed one. We call her Marilyn after Marilyn Munster. (From the old T.V show) She seems so normal but I know better. No one could be normal and live there. Well, M.M. is a diplomat to say the least… he found out that Sally was the only one who wanted the cat. Marilyn, her mother and the matriarch of the family, did not. She said; “Have the cat, we don’t want it.”
I was ecstatic at the news, it was so much easier than I thought….or so I thought.
Jacky didn’t return. Five days passed. I asked around the neighborhood, Marilyn had not seen Jacky, no one had. I feared that Jacky’s friendly and trusting nature had gotten him into trouble. I looked and looked for him, to no avail. I wished that I hadn’t let myself get so attached so fast. I kept up appearances though. I told my family that Jacky was fine and that he was having an adventure somewhere and he would be back any day.
I had a bad feeling, I was convinced that I’d never see that white cat again. I looked out the window, as I had been doing a lot of lately, this time I didn’t expect to see him, I was giving up hope and then there he was.. he was in the street, he looked confused and out of it. He was sniffing the ground like animals do when lost. I could tell from a lifetime of experience with cats that he had been in a car and had just been deposited there in the street.
He saw me and ran to the front door, I let him in. A flurry of meows escaped his little cat mouth. He was a bit skinnier and he looked dirty but there he was in all his cat glory. He also was sporting a cheap plastic collar with gaudy glitter all over it, attached was a metal tag: Hastily scratched into the metal was the word Lucky, underneath was an address..The address was familiar.. very familiar.
I knew right away what had happened. I thought back and remembered that I had not seen Sally or her old green van for a while, about the same length of time I hadn’t seen Jacky…
Sally.. of course it was her, she had taken poor Jacky somewhere in her stupid van, And stupid me had believed them. I am so naive sometimes. The problem remained, We both wanted Jacky. I believed that I should have him since he would be so much happier at my house… I also thought that Jacky agreed…he did somewhat.
Jacky also had built quite the reputation in the neighborhood: He was a friendly sort. The cute little girls next door called him snowball, the blonde teenager across the street called him princess. The people around the block knew him as buttercup and I suppose Sally had named him Lucky. Everyone thought he was a girl cat, I guess because he is so pretty, they just assumed. I know enough to look…and what to look for…..enough said on that.
I took off the collar and the metal tag and put them on the mantle, that wasn’t the best idea, looking back on it… Sometimes I get so bull-headed thinking I ‘m right when sometimes….
Jacky had eaten his fill and slept for a couple of days and he was ready to go out. I let him out the back door and into the garden. He like all the other cats in the area, instantly fell in love with the place. It’s a cat’s paradise back there… he explored and then found a nice cool spot in the back..behind a tall fern. He settled in for a nap. Jacky stuck around for a couple more days, hanging out in the garden, sleeping and hunting moths under the back porch light.
And then, he was gone. He went out the side gate. I was sure he would come back, He’s so happy here, I thought, he even grins at me when I pet him. I walked through the side myself, past the multitudes of potted plants in a long long driveway, I could see a shock of white, running..”Here we go again.” I said out loud to myself… this time though, it was different. Instead of Jacky, my Jacky, running toward me.. he was running over to HER?!
This cannot be. What is going on? Why is he going over to her? I was to say the very least, flabbergasted, I was beside myself. Then when I saw the boy, the little boy, the crazy neighbor’s kid and I guess, Sally’s son, he was calling the cat and running around. Sally was beside him and she was actually smiling… Jacky went up to them and started rolling around on the ground, in that adorable way he does. She, Sally, the one I had watched for years, go into red-faced rages and screaming fits in the street at night, this Sally who let her kids run wild and swore like a sailor. She stroked his white fur with a gentleness I had never seen in her before.
The boy ran around and then in an instant, Jacky was up on his feet and running.. with the boy, back and forth across the tall weeds that make up their front yard. The boy was laughing and so was Sally. Jacky, I think he was smiling too.
I learned much that day. About Sally, about boys and cats. I learned the most about me….
Some time has passed and Sally and I and of course Jacky have made some compromises. The gaudy collar stays on but the tag stays off. Jacky goes wherever Jacky wants to go. Which has turned out to be nights with her, days with me.
Everyone seems a little happier since Jacky’s arrival, now that the dust has settled and I am just beginning to learn about Jacky. He is a special one. He has been going on walks with me as of late, he follows me like a dog. Trotting along, never minding the noises of humans, their machines or their dogs. He is quite the brave traveler. We’ve been gaining some notice around the neighborhood for our walks, maybe I’m creating a bit of a reputation myself.