Sad cactus

Both my great-grandmothers can make things grow just by looking at the ground hard enough, and my grandmother always had bursting flower gardens while I was growing up.

…Let’s just say that talent hasn’t trickled down through the generations.

Green things do not grow in my presence. Our landscaping is sad because, while I know what I would like to grow there, I don’t have the slightest starting idea of how to make it happen. We have mulch. Do I have to remove the mulch? Can I just plant things through the mulch? Do I have to dig holes or can I just put the plants on top and pile on more dirt until they are buried?

Can I just buy whatever flowers I like and stick them in the ground? Or do I have to put certain flowers in certain places? Can I even plant things in June or is there a special window when things can be planted and I’ve already missed it for the year?

See? It’s sad. There is very little hope for me.

I reminded my mother of this last Christmas when she presented me and the Mister with a small potted cactus. I told her I would kill it, because that’s just what mysteriously happens to plants when they are left in my care. But she was insistent. “It’s a cactus. You can’t kill it.”

(Well we’ll see about that…)

Fast-forward about six months. The Mister and I have attached the small magnetic pot to our refrigerator, in a room that gets a decent amount of light during the day. We have followed the instructions on the tiny hanging card meticulously. The Mister set a recurring reminder on his phone to water “Bob” the cactus every two weeks. I wrote it on the calendar so I could remind him to check his reminders.

We measure exactly two ounces of water into a little scoop and pour it in carefully, making sure nothing spills and the water is evenly distributed throughout the tiny pot.

We’ve probably put more concentrated effort into this minuscule cactus than we have into keeping our dogs alive! (Of course, our dogs clearly let us know when they are hungry. Bob has been strangely silent on the topic.)

All of this, and guess what we discovered yesterday?

One of Bob’s leaf shoots fell out of the pot. Then we touched another and it was completely disconnected too. Then we nudged poor Bob and, lo and behold, he doesn’t have any roots at all! Not even shallow roots in his tiny pot.

So there you have it, folks! Bob is dead. After all this time and all that work, Bob is dead. Bob has probably been dead for a while and we just didn’t know it.

(Although he is still green… a fact we can’t seem to reconcile with his seemingly obvious demise.)

The lesson from this story: If it doesn’t bark, paw, scratch, scream, cry, dance or moan when it’s hungry, I will probably kill it. This extends from plants to include fish, hermit crabs, hamsters and really any other form of silent dependent.

The really sad thing is that we’ve gotten used to having to take care of Bob. We’ve become more attached to him than we have to any other planted thing in our lives. And now that he’s dead, I really don’t know how to process that. So we’ll probably just leave him on the refrigerator and continue to water him faithfully until he finally shrivels up and starts to smell and there is no longer any pretending that he is alive and well.

So I’ll just live in denial until that happens. Happy watering day!

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