Sunday, November 25, 2007

The embalmed bonsai

When I was a kid, my mum wore elastic topped 'slacks' and tunic style tops. She played golf with her friends who also wore elastic slacks and tunics. In the Summer Mum's left hand was always white where she wore her leather golfing glove while her arms up to the sleeve mark were a deep honey brown. Golf was her passion, she spent a lot of time at the golf course and consequently I was at the baby sitters a lot.
One of my baby sitters was wonderful, her name was Mrs Duffy she was short and wrinkled and had a face like what I imagined a plum pudding might look like, or a sugar plum fairy- I wasn't sure which, they were Christmas images I'd read about but never seen in Australia. I don't think Mrs Duffy had a husband, she lived in a little dark stone cottage and kept Eskimo Pie ice creams in an enormous freezer that took up all of her hallway except for a little gap to squeeze past. My other babysitter was called Mrs Skinner, she was tall and thin and had a rather severe angular face. She lived in a house with wooden floors and no toys. I screamed when I was left with Mrs Skinner, the time it took to play a round of golf felt interminably long at Mrs Skinner's house.
Mum spent so much time at golf that she didn't have time for gardening. In every room in our house, there was a vase filled with plastic flowers. There were roses on top of the book case in an array of pastel coloured blooms, that were waxy and death like, whenever I looked at them it chilled me. My mother's nemesis who was also Japanese, brought her a bonsai from the old country once. She gave my mother many gifts and I think Mum accepted them all just so she could recall her vivid hatred whenever she set eyes on them. The bonsai was placed on the top shelf in the kitchen where it languished, never watered or clipped. The bonsai was a precious symbol of the beauty of Mum's home land but at the same time a bitter reminder of Minnie, the hated bestower of gifts.
After many years the miniature tree was completely dessicated but seemed to have extra growth where the dust had accumulated and formed into clumps of grey felty material. One day the bonsai was taken away. I was not living at home anymore at this stage and the next time I came to visit, the bonsai was back but it had been sprayed an artificial dark lime colour, clumps of dust and all. It is still there, slightly larger again with another crop of dust. Mum no longer talks to Minnie.

4 comments:

Africantapestry said...

Hi Deb, I tried to leave a comment last night on your latets post, the one with the chicks and the cute houses...which I love, but I couldn't find your ""comments". So I thought it is a blogger hiccup, but this morning it is still missing? Love your two latest sketches...those houses are SO nice and the whole sketches are beautiful!
Ronell

Alison said...

Yes, your 'comments' spots have gone. Your bird drawings are intriguing and I think you write very well - I like Natalie Goldberg too.

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