Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review of My Ficus Tree

It's rampantly leafy, my ficus tree, but I hadn't noticed that. In fact, I hadn't looked at the tree in the master bedroom in a long time.

To Tree or Not to Tree
I wouldn't be reviewing our ficus at all except for my present condition of being deprived of all news of happenings on the planet.

In order to cope, I have found myself Van Winkle "wake walking" about the house, looking at things and reassessing them during the time I might have normally had the newspaper open or the television turned on, or, more likely, would have been scrolling pages and clicking links on the Internet.

Today I went down the hall. I went left, I went right. That's how I came face to face with this little tree.

Hey, what if I wrote of review of it?

All right. Let's see. The ficus benjamina or "weeping fig"  would seem to be the all-purpose, lonely, sentry-like tree, suitable for the in-door worlds of corporate America or the American home. The ficus is so successful in being a part of the cultural fabric we've woven (in which nature gets to play a decidedly minor role) we hardly notice them. Yet they are so numerous that people have figured out how to introduce a more efficient version into our lives.

Voila. No water, no fertilizer, no light required, just an occasional squirt of 409 cleaner or dab of Superglue if something comes loose. It's as near to natural as you can get, this now-on-sale "nearly natural Silk Ficus Tree."

The tree currently under consideration is a bit better than that, although 95% of the time its owner is unaware that it's a living entity and that once a month he ought to pour a gallon of water down the barrel basket throat of the poor thing. If he forgets, it lets him know it has feelings. By mournfully dropping leaves.

Something's Been Going On
What I hadn't realized about our ficus is that it seems to be doing well. The reason for the surprise is that last I checked, a rather long time ago, it was somewhat sparse in the vegetation department.

The tree's condition depressed me at the time as it was a reminder of the first ficus I ever owned. That one belonged to me when I lived in Alaska. It died a slow death, a victim of an eastern exposure during the dark winter and a drafty window that let in the cold. Not even 24-hour "light support" courtesy of the blueish glow of metal halide tube lights could keep that ficus from converting itself into a large stick sculpture.

Our current ficus is another story. It's become like our son who almost unnoticed added two inches to his height during May-August. Suddenly on the day he's starting school again we hold out hands to measure and say, Is that really you?

Yes. New leaves have grown over the summer. This reviewer is impressed.

The Realization
It's a jungle in there...
As today I stare and take mental notes at the foot of my happy, modestly successful, warm weather thriving ficus, a metaphor occurs to me.

Some people are ficus trees.

Hmm. Really? That sounds a bit bizarre. What does that mean? Let me try to explain...

Stuck as they are in dusty corners or at the bottom of the stairwell, we may ignore the folks who live and work outside the limelight, but it doesn't matter. If they're given temperate albeit humble conditions, these people put down roots. Without the benefit of a cheering section or accolades or magazine headlines or news feature stories, they quietly, slowly, grow and they even flourish.

I know, it's awfully sentimental. But seriously. Imagine it.

Right now there must be some single moms or single dads standing tall like a ficus and quietly raising their kids to be decent, respectful human beings.

Or, off to the side, it's a husband and wife, just emerging from marriage counseling, and, against the odds, they're going to save their marriage, growing old together, putting new leaves on their life, and the kids will someday gather at the silver anniversary.

Or there's a social worker figuring out creative ways to help clients even when the State keeps cutting funding.

Or there's the teacher standing in the aisle of OfficeMax putting art supplies in her cart for her third graders and she's paying for it out of her own money.

Or you'll find the priest or the minister, the 99 out of 100 who would never abuse anyone, huddled with confused or suffering people and listening to them and passing to them again the box of Kleenex.

Or notice the silent, wise child who is doing her homework at the kitchen table and knows when to say "no" to too much screen time or how to ignore that text message that just rattled her cell phone.

Or hold in your mind for a moment and forward best wishes to the day laborer who's just trying to support his family on piss poor wages and he's bringing home dinner tonight to five other people while staying off the bottle and the welfare rolls.

Or there's the white collar employee, so far down the corporate food chain that if he got to be like Dwight on The Office, or she could be Pam, it would be a HUGE promotion, yet they're talking pleasantly on the phone to irate customers, filling out their expense accounts and time sheets accurately, doing their job and doing it well.

This community of human ficuses might even include some talented artist everyone ignores, but he or she is still getting up every day and hoping for just enough dose of water to keep on putting out a sufficient number of leaves to declare, I took my stand here and I exist. And if no one notices, so be it. That artist's goal is to endure as a true, real living thing in a world of way too much silk and plastic, and share the shade with someone else who needs a moment of cool rest.

The Rating
Because this ficus tree has taught me so much and it costs me probably pennies per year to maintain, I'm going to give it a thumb's up and a **** rating. Suitable for all ages.- V.W.

1 comment: