Just before we were married I purchased an itsy-bitsy ficus tree. It wasn’t much to look at, no braided trunk or bonsai-type shape, but he was cute and tiny. I planted him in a miniature pot and we moved him to our first apartment.
As he grew so did the size of the pots. He got taller and taller, losing almost all his leaves if he got too much sun or not enough sun or we forgot to water him or watered him too much. I used to worry about how temperamental he is; no more.
He has lived in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, New York City, The Commune(s), and now the boat.
He looked the best in Columbus: a tiny tree in our giant house.
He began fading after we moved to New York, possibly because he was in a moving storage warehouse for a month and possibly because Lola started using him as an attention-getting device.
She does this by standing on the pot and biting off leaves; spitting them out and looking over at us to see if it worked. It usually does. If it doesn’t she pulls off larger branches and eventually bites the trunk. Why is this cat so bad??
Anyway, back to Walter… The Commune nearly did him in.
He got shuffled around because there was no good spot for him. Lola continued the badness-pruning and he became more and more bedraggled. When we left Commune #2 he was just a tall stick with a few greeny-yellow leaves.
I figured he was a goner once he was on the boat. I couldn’t part with him right away (after all we’ve been through) but I was prepared to
throw him in the dumpster give him a proper burial when the time came.
Instead, against all odds, Walter thrives.
We left him in the cockpit for a little while but moved him below after the first time we went sailing, he was just too much in the way.
The salt air or the sunlight or the tough love made him sprout new leaves. “Look”, we would say to each other, “Walter has a new leaf!” And so it went.
When winter came and the temperatures dropped below freezing I figured this was a case of Thrive Or Die for Walter. Peter, My Better Half, had a different notion. He bought a new, shorter pot, new potting soil, and tiny pebbly rocks to put on top of the soil (so cats don’t stuff their paws in there and flip it all over). Over the winter he’s grown so tall that he’s pressing against the bottom of the hatch (when we put him in his new pot he didn’t reach the headliner).
This, obviously, means that Walter is here to stay. Unfortunately he resembles more of a Dr. Seuss drawing than a tropically majestic Ficus Benjamina. He does a good job catching floating cat fur, though, so that’s something.