The Plant

Who knew re­pot­ting this sucker would be such an ad­ven­ture?

More of Our Canada - - Contents - By Ross Hiebert, Spruce Grove, Alta.

There was a rea­son this house plant never seemed to drip, droop or drop its leaves…

The plant has lived with us for many years. Maybe even be­fore we bought our first house. It’s just al­ways been there. First it was off to the side of the main win­dow in the liv­ing room, then it was by the pa­tio door. It spent some time on a stair land­ing as well as in the cor­ner of the din­ing room. Like the dogs and cats it was just there. I would see my wife Bev­er­ley with one of those plas­tic pails that ice cream comes in, half full of wa­ter, car­ing for the plant. It was a good plant. It didn’t smell bad or drop leaves or drip sap. It just sat there, wher­ever it was put, just like a good plant should.

On oc­ca­sion Bev­er­ley has re­marked that the plant could use a new con­tainer and that the one it was in was too small and not very nice look­ing. I didn’t pay much at­ten­tion un­til one day, while read­ing the pa­per, I no­ticed an ad say­ing that if you brought in a plant and bought a new con­tainer, they would trans­plant it for you—free of charge.

I waited for my chance when my wife was out of the house. I wres­tled that plant into the back of the mini­van. Let me tell you, it was a fight. The plant, al­though picked out the per­fect light­beige coloured pot. I would have said that she “helped” me choose a pot, but you know how it went. It looked great and I was sur­prised at my good taste.

I ex­plained my phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions and a young man was sent to get the plant from my ve­hi­cle. I am hon­our-bound to tell you that he had no trou­ble not only tak­ing it out of the van but also car­ry­ing it in­side and putting it up on a work­bench. I could tell he’d

it was only four feet high, was heavy! It took ev­ery ounce of my strength to get the job done. But I did it.

At the gar­den cen­tre I looked around and fi­nally asked for help in choos­ing a new pot. A very nice lady— I learned later that only nice ladies are al­lowed to work in gar­den cen­tres—

done this be­fore. He then grabbed the base of the stem of the plant, and, with what seemed to be Her­culean strength, pulled the thing out of the pot. I was cer­tain he must have pulled the stem off the roots and de­stroyed my wife’s favourite plant, not to men­tion how she was go­ing to feel about her favourite hus­band. The con­fronta­tion was too hor­ren­dous to con­tem­plate. Thank­fully, it was not to be. The plant came cleanly out, still firmly at­tached to its gleam­ing white, tightly com­pacted ball of root ma­te­rial. I mar­velled at how smooth and white it had be­come while jammed into the space it had. It was like plas­tic or paraf­fin. The young man seemed to en­joy his work and seemed to be on the verge of laugh­ter. Be­tween the in­haled sounds of sti­fled chuck­les, he con­firmed that I did in­deed want the plant to be re­pot­ted in the new con­tainer. He called over the nice lady, who, with a very large but nice smile, sug­gested how he could ac­com­plish this task so that it would look nice.

With prac­ticed hands, he com­pleted the job quickly and ef­fi­ciently, and it looked bet­ter than it ever had be­fore with fresh soil and some dec­o­ra­tive stones. Reloaded into the van, I waved good­bye to the

two of them as they stood in the park­ing lot with an aura of great glee as they re­turned my cheery wave. What nice peo­ple. Back home, the prob­lem was just be­gin­ning. How was I ever go­ing to get the big­ger pot­ted and much heav­ier plant into the house? This was a puz­zler— un­til God an­swered my un­spo­ken prayer and de­liv­ered unto me my neigh­bour and his two teenage sons. No more need be said.

When my wife ar­rived home, I met her at the door with what I be­lieve has been de­scribed as a “cheese-eat­ing” grin.

“What have you done?” No “Hello” or “Hi dear.” No “Hi, sweet­heart, how’s your day been?” Noth­ing. Just, “What have you done?”

“Well,” I said with a cheer­ful voice, “come and see.”

On that note, I took her by the hand and led her into the liv­ing room and proudly showed her the re­sults of my not in­con­sid­er­able ef­forts. I ex­cit­edly ex­plained that now that the rhodo­den­dron was no longer root-bound, it would have am­ple op­por­tu­nity to grow and pros­per and per­haps even flower.

Sud­denly and with­out warn­ing, my wife burst out in the loud­est and most rau­cous laugh­ter I had ever heard from her or any other mem­ber of her sex. It scared me badly! It went on and on and on. When she fi­nally re­gained some lim­ited con­trol of her­self, she care­fully ex­plained as best she could to her poor be­wil­dered hus­band, while still be­ing racked with hoots and chuck­les, that first of all, the plant was not a rhodo­den­dron but was called an um­brella plant, and sec­ondly—and here comes the kicker— it is made of rub­ber. Yes, an ar­ti­fi­cial um­brella plant—prob­a­bly made in China.

“But, but...” I sput­tered, “I’ve seen you with a pail of wa­ter, wa­ter­ing it.”

In a voice that she would use while ex­plain­ing some­thing to a small child if it weren’t for the laugh bombs still be­ing dropped, she said, “No, dear. You’ve seen me wash­ing the dust off its big rub­ber leaves.” More gales of laugh­ter and she was gone.

No won­der the darn thing never smelled, dripped or dropped any leaves. I just thought it was one tough rhodo­den­dron. ■

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