Secret Bonsai Garden
I made the most unexpected discovery on my way to work today. On my normal route to work, I ride almost daily past a sign on a lightly travelled residential road that says BONSAI CONNECTION. I always thought it was peculiar but the houses on either side of it didn't appear to have anything to do with bonsai trees or connections of any sort so I just thought it was a dated or misplaced sign. Well today there was a CLEARANCE sign underneath it, so I decided to check it out. I crossed the street and stopped by the sign. Scanning the area I noticed that a gravel driveway I'd associated with one of the neighboring houses actually lead past the house and continued a hundred yards or so to a gate. On the gate was a sign that said OPEN. Ah ha! I rode back to the fence and leaned my bike against it. I walked through the gate, under some trees and there was a house with the door open. KNOCK KNOCK, I yelled. JUST A MINUTE came the response over the barking of a chihuahuaesque mutt who was now occupying the door. I was waiting for Mr. Miyagi but instead out walked a cigarette smoke-aged Rue McClanahan with missing teeth and a mullet. DON'T MIND HIM I JUST GOT HIM TWO WEEKS AGO, she said, ashing her cigarette on the mutt. I'D LIKE TO SEE, I started, but she interrupted with YOU EVER DONE BONSAI TREES BEFORE? Another mutt, this one in the shape of a morbidly obese and hopeless golden retriever ambled after us as she led me around the side of the house. WELL I HAD ONE IN MY, I started again, but she said ANYWAYS HERE'S THE STARTER PLANTS, HERE'S THE TREES AND BACK THERE'S MORE, pointing wildly. I looked in the directions she was pointing. There were several large cages containing birds of various shapes and sizes, a few with multicolored rabbits and there were rabbits and chickens wandering about the yard. There were also dozens of shelves with different sizes and varieties of bonsai trees. Some quite small and simple and other quite beautiful and intricate. WOW, I said. She took a drag of her cigarette, adding to the 4 inch granny ash hanging limp off the end and exhaled, IT STARTED AS A HOBBY AND NOW I HAVE A SHIT-LOAD OF 'EM. I'M GONNA GO GET SHOES. I glanced down at her feet. Peeling red toenail polish tried to hide her jagged unkempt toenails. I vomited in my mouth and swallowed it, then said OKAY. I spent the next few minutes wandering around looking at the assorted flora and fauna. The trees all had very reasonable prices attached via stickers to their glazed ceramic pots. I looked up and saw an older man stumble out of one of the sheds behind the rabbit coops. He walked to where I was and addressed me with his eyes. YOU A RACE CAR DRIVER, he asked, eyeing the bike helmet I had tucked under my arm. HA, NO, I'M A.. he punched my arm and laughed, then walked towards the house. The woman met him halfway and they argued while I finished looking around and scratched the fat dogs head to the dismay of the smaller one. When he wandered inside I told her I had to run to work and that I'd be back. She nodded and I left, smiling about the randomness of life. It was all very zen.