The evergreen bush refused its vitamin drink. Plant fuel stakes seeped into the ground. However, the bush's brown needles showed the agony of starvation. Water deprivation from drought and neglect took its toll. A hidden broken sprinkler head hastened the decline. Last winter, branches drooped and shrugged off twinkling holiday lights.
Turning its back on Christmas was not the first hint of torment. Two or three summers ago, the evergreen succumbed to bagworms. The sticky web spun larvae wriggled and sapped the strength of our hardy shrub. Liberally doused chemicals killed the insects, but affected the bush's inner core. A faded green that summer, it entered the fall/winter season pale and shaky. Needles fell, and a rare heavy snowfall left the plant limp.
A spring trim shaped and perked up the spirits of the large bush. Grateful swimmers valued its shade against the blistering western sun and sought relief in the late afternoon shadows. Despite the love, like a balding man with more scalp shining through, the bush presented gaping brown holes. Like a bad comb over, no amount of pruning could hide the rotten truth. The evergreen chose to not be with us anymore. Rather than a continuous needle drop, it coughed up whole branches in self-amputation.
Above ground, the bush flat-lined. Below ground, its roots clutched the earth. In the final removal yank, the evergreen bush emitted a sad sucking gasp. It flopped naked on the ground, a chain around the few remaining branches, while shriveled roots quivered in despair.
The bush is gone. Yet, tiny reminders appear. Each sweep of the back patio brings a pile of evergreen needles. A brown needle or two pokes through the living room carpet and refuses to be whisked into the vacuum bag. Yelps are heard from the backyard as a barefoot walker encounters the jab of a hidden evergreen needle.
We live with the ghost of an evergreen bush.
First published: November, 2006
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