Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Man’s Best Friend

Ask any pet owner. No human activity gives greater satisfaction than caring for another living being that depends on you for its health and well-being. It’s a big responsibility but the rewards are enormous. That’s why I have a bonsai tree. When I gaze into her leafy plumage, my heart swells with love.

Other people keep cats, dogs and parrots. And those are nice, but, “only God can make a tree.” Besides, keeping cats, dogs and parrots uses up way too much time and money. Bonsais ask for little and give much. They never howl at the moon and keep your neighbors up all night. Bonsais won’t rub up against your leg and leave their fur all over your trousers. They won’t scratch your furniture or shove spit soaked tennis balls into your crotch. I once knew a man who went everywhere with his parrot riding on his wet, stained shoulder. The kids all called him, “Mr. Guano.”

A bonsai doesn’t ask for much — sun, rain, pruning twice a year —  tops. Maybe some plant food on occasion. I know, you’re thinking, “It can’t be that simple.” Okay, I’ll level with you—there is a little more you need to know. For example, most bonsais do best if you let them ride out the winter somewhere cold, but not so cold that their roots can freeze. Garages work well. Tool sheds too. Sometimes they don’t survive dormancy. But on the plus side, once they’ve dropped their leaves, it can take months before you realize that they’re dead.

If you can’t be bothered with all that, then stick with a tree that doesn’t mind living indoors. A narrow leaf ficus makes a good pet. But watch out for spider mites. They kill! My sweet pet, Chia, got into some spider mites. Her leaves turned yellow and fell off. I buried her in the trash this morning. Will I miss her? Gosh, no, she was just a house plant. I’ll buy another this afternoon.
My instant, new best friend. Just add water.

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