It was about time that I acknowledged my Yucca tree. It has now faithfully warmed and made two different living rooms feel like home. It really loved the first living room, it’s narrow pointing leaves shooting out and soaking in all of the sunlight.
Now here in the second living room it reached a plateau. A tall apartment building blocks the direct sunlight by mid-morning. Still, the root system achieved maximum density in the small plastic container. I would water it and the water would immediately go to the tray below – there was no more soil left to absorb the moisture, the roots had taken over the pot.
These trees are used to growing in vast deserts where their root systems can expand out for almost a dozen meters. Now my plant was in a pot less than 50 centimeters in diameter.
Since June, I had a large pot picked out for it and waiting in the basement of my store. A few times I would go down to the dark, cold and moldy basement to lift the large pot off the plastic shelf to test it’s weight. Each time I deemed it just a bit too heavy to take home with me on the subway. So the pot waited and waited patiently in the basement of the store. At home, my plant waited even more patiently.
Weeks went by, and still I had not gotten about to bring my car out to work to pick up the pot. One morning, after it had spent a few weeks in drought, I walked through the living room and saw the tree as if for the first time and said “Don’t worry, I will take care of you today”. It was the first time I had acknowledged my tree in this way and I suddenly understood how Lane felt when he addressed the small tree on the other side of his campfire.
“Not usually accustomed to talking to trees, I said hello, feeling a sense of commonality around the fire together. As we sat there, the young tree, almost like a child, seemed to be asking for a story. Fires have a way of suggesting such things.”
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes” p. 157 Belden C. Lane
I immediately went about my errands, first stopping by Canadian Tire to purchase some soil. I had to do my research to be sure that I purchased the right kind of soil for my tree was a cactus and not the usual kind of tree that grows outdoors year-round in Ontario. I found the potting soil bag labeled “Cactus Soil” and inspected the difference between it and other soil mixes. Yes, of course – the difference is sand!
I quickly drove North and picked up the pot from my store before rush hour. I brought my supplies home and placed them on the landing on our second floor. The cicadas were buzzing their buzz for the heat of the day. This tree had been through more than just one day of drought and choking in the pot – I had let it go for a couple of months. This day it’s drought was to come to an end.
I tried lifting the tree out of its plastic pot, expecting that it would smoothly glide out, like many of the plantings I had purchased earlier in the spring. I tried shaking it a bit and giving it a bit of a jolt to pry it out. Still the plant wouldn’t give. I had to get the scissors out, carefully cutting one side to reveal the thick red veins. Luckily I didn’t cut through them.
Even after cutting one side of the pot, the tree still wouldn’t give. I had to cut it in three different places and pull the sides down to completely expose the root system that was firmly holding everything together in the shape of the small plastic container.
As I worked diligently, I sang – singing to the tree my apology for neglecting it for so long. Unlike in Lane’s case my tree was not asking for a story, but a for a song. I played the song over again and carefully pruned all of the dead branches that accumulated at the base of the foliage. Carefully I lifted and pried it out of the last two centimeters of the base of the pot and placed it on the small bed of dirt in the new pot. I began to slowly fill the sides with dirt, and dirt and more dirt.
My plant now sits in its spot by the window. A few more branches have dried up since I repotted it, but I hope that in some way it can remember my song.