The San Antonio Nursery in Santa Cruz offered to go into the field and lop off the top of one of the Norfolk pines in their yard. ‘We do this and it sends out several new tops,’ they assured over the phone. I was already burnt by my last encounter but San Antonio – St Anthony to us – is the patron saint of lost things; Santa has a certain Christmas ring to it and Cruz is definitely Jesus, albeit at the end of his life. But I took all that to be an optimistic sign for the day’s adventure; booked a four foot tree top and headed out once more to collect it, with daughter-in-law Harriet and two of my grandsons, Jack and Hugo.
I paid for five feet at $20 a foot, a steal of a deal. And it’s five foot only if you discount the foot-and-a-half of trunk below the last whorl of branches.
‘Put it in a bucket, put some big stones to hold it up, put some small stones to fill the gaps and pour in some water. It should last at least a week.’ Instructions delivered by the two men who had cut it and tied it to the roof of my daughter-in-law’s car when it failed to fit in the trunk or even the front seat (the back seat was already taken up with two child’s seats).
I have put it in a bucket, added big and small stones and water and I swear I have never seen a more handsome tree. The branches--lushly, deeply green and thick--spring upwards, each holding its two sets of needles semi-closed as if in supplication. It would be a travesty to add anything to it – ‘gilding the lily’ springs to mind. So at the moment, I sit and look in wonder at its unsullied perfection. Won’t last, though – Christmas is nothing if not excess, so I know I shall have to yield to cosquellery – but that’s another day.
20 December, 2009
Barbara Jenkins is a writer living in Trinidad. She was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth Short Story competition and was runner-up in the 2009 Wasafiri Short Story Competition. Jenkins participated in the Cropper Writers Workshop in 2008.
FIND out more here. Photos by Andre Bagoo.