A Christmas Bonsai Story

“I’m done now Master Scrooge, May I go to spend time with my own bonsai trees on Christmas Eve,” asked Bob Hatchet.

“Bah Humbug,” snorted Scrooge, repot one more Juniper and you’ll be done. Your trees can wait.”

Master Scroogeran a tight bonsai nursery – watching the dollars and cents with an eagle eye.  He was even tougher on his apprentice.

Soon Hatchet departed and Scrooge snarled at how cheerful he seemed to be returning home to his own trees.

Scrooge prepared a glass of Superthrive and scoffed at the bonsai carols coming from the carolers in the street.  He donned his nightcap, lay down and soon started snoring.

When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from the opaque walls of his chamber. He saw a mist form in his room, in the shape of a bonsai. It was a strange bonsai — like a shohin: yet not so like a Ficus as like an old Buttonwood, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave it the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a mame’s proportions. Its branches, which hung about its trunk were gnarled with age yet it had the tenderest bloom

“Who, and what are you?” Scrooge demanded.

“I am the Ghost of Bonsai Past. Come with Me.”

Scrooge seem to float with the ghost to his garden and there he saw the carcasses of bonsai trees long dead.  Yet they moved and seem to grow with glee.

“These are but shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us.”

But they grow and how lovely so,” said Scrooge.

“Yes they are glad to be free of your garden.”

“But I could sell them now.”

“How selfish,” the ghost glared so forcefully, it made Scrooge faint. Soon he found himself awaking again. It was his room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. A bright bonsai glided in from the darkness. Scrooge shielded his eyes.

“I am the Ghost of Bonsai Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me.”

Scrooge reverently did so. It was a Pine shod in a verdant green mantle of short needles, above a wide trunk transition.  Its root base, observable beneath the ample foliage gripped the soil in a perfect radial pattern.

“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the Spirit.

“Never,” Scrooge made answer to it.

“Thatis because your nursery works on fear and not love of the trees.  If you thought less of money and more of the trees your bonsai could look like me.”

Then they flew to Hatchet’s garden. “Look, these are Hatchet’s trees, they grow with love and beauty.”

Scrooge looked dumb founded as the Ghost showed him Hatchet’s garden and there, Hatchet talking and caring for his bonsai, though late at night.

“Merry Christmas trees – I saved my pennies and got you some nice fertilizer this year,” said Hatchet. “If only Mr.Scrooge could see it. He’d like you.” The bonsai trees seemed happy.

Scrooge too had imperceptibly become so gay and light of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last word;and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels.

Much they saw, and far they went, and many bonsai gardens they visited, but always with a happy end.

It was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together.It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost branches sagged,  lichen formed on its bark and dead limbs appeared.

“Are bonsai spirits’ lives so short?” asked Scrooge.

“My life in this pot is verybrief,” replied the Ghost. “It ends tonight.”

“Tonight!” cried Scrooge.

There was a flash and a moment that seemed eternal followed by darkness. Then a different Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black shadow, which concealed its foliage, its pot, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched branch. But for this it would have been difficultto detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.

He felt that it was tall and stately like a literati when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.

“I am in the presence of the Ghost of Bonsai Yet To Come?” said Scrooge.

The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with its gnarled branch.

“You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” Scrooge pursued. “Is that so,Spirit?”

Then the floor opened and Scrooge saw what might be his future – a barren nursery with dead trees and dilapidated buildings.

“I understand spirit. I will make it right.”

And Scrooge did, promoting Hatchet and giving him a raise, giving away trees for convention raffles and writing a web page on how to love bonsai trees.

Happy Bonsai Holidays all! 

About Charles "The Trunk" Thickens

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