Couldn’t You Just Get Your Soil Out of a Can?
A conversation between a tree and a cat

Flickr credit: Florin Mogos

CAT: Would you mind moving that large branch of yours about 6 inches to the left? With the movement of the sun I now feel rather too warm…

TREE: Are you joking? You must know by now that I am incapable of movement.

CAT: Are you? I hadn’t noticed.

TREE: You mean we’ve been sharing this yard for over a decade and you’ve never taken heed of my immobility?

CAT (stretching): No, I’d never really thought about it. Quite a pity seeing as it is now very hot in this spot…

TREE: You could just move yourself, you know.

CAT: I suppose I could… But I don’t feel that you are telling me the truth. I’ve seen you move; your leaves rustle and your size has certainly changed in the time that I’ve known you, the reach of your branches has definitely extended.

TREE: My leaves rustle due to wind, which is simply the large-scale movement of gases, such as those that make up a planet’s atmosphere. And the other phenomenon you describe is growth, which is not a movement, per se, and is not the result of my will.

CAT: I see. I could never live like that. My will is far too strong.

15 minutes pass without conversation or movement between them, the Cat and the Tree each lost in their own thoughts.

CAT: There’s been a lot of discussion concerning you around the house lately.

TREE: Has there now?

CAT: Yes, indeed. The Lady of the House is very upset with how you’ve been reacting to the pool.

TREE: How I’ve been reacting? Whatever does that mean?

CAT: She says that your… I forget the word; whatever that part of you is that is underground…

TREE: My roots?

CAT (cringing): Yes, your “roots.” Quite an ugly word, don’t you think? Anyway, she says that your “roots” are causing a severe disturbance to the pool basin and sidewalk.

TREE: Yes, I am well aware of this “disturbance.” Did she speculate at all as to what sort of disturbance the pool might be causing me?

CAT: Whatever do you mean?

TREE: I mean that the pool, which was built and installed well into my tenure in this yard, gets in the way of my roots, which are still growing, not unlike her very own children. And their collision is by no means a pleasant one for me.

CAT: I don’t think she gave that a second thought, or even a first one. I doubt she has any idea that you are sentient and capable of both the experience of pain as well as this abstract form of communication.

TREE: I suppose she wouldn’t.

CAT: But if is makes you feel better [sly grin] they are considering a remedy to the situation.

TREE: Is that so? You mean they are planning to contact their local arborist?

CAT: Oh heavens no, such a person would no doubt have your best interest in mind, and that would be far too time-consuming. You see, they are more concerned with immediacy than with long-term solutions.

TREE: Yes, that seems to be symptomatic of the current age…

CAT: Instead they are discussing removing you from the premises.

TREE: You must be joking! Why, that would deprive the family of my numerous benefits. Why aren’t they considering removing you from the premises?

CAT: Well I never… Good Heavens… I shan’t grace that remark with any further response. Are you really comparing the benefits you provide to the family with my own??

TREE: : I certainly am. I provide oxygen, beauty, shade, a canvas onto which the little ones might carve the name of one of their sweethearts. This superficial puncturing of my outer layer would certainly still cause me pain, but it is a sacrifice I would graciously make in the name of love and record keeping –

CAT: But in the autumn you make a terrible mess when you discard your leaves.

TREE: But the children delight in making piles our of them and diving into them, frolicking wistfully…

CAT: Whereas I provide companionship, love, wonderment, intrigue… And you do not speak to them.

TREE: Nor do you. At least not in words they understand.

CAT: I’ve never considered that… but they always give me what I ask for, which is all I ever think to say to them. How could they be capable of doing this without understanding what I am saying?

TREE: It is not that hard to guess: Food, play, affection…

CAT: And what would you ask for if you were able?

TREE: Nothing other than the necessary soil volume for my canopy to reach its full potential.

CAT: Soil volume? That sounds obscene! Please do not forget that I am a lady.

TREE: It is a term that refers to the quantity of soil that my roots have access to for the nutrients that I need to survive.

CAT: Do you mean to say that what Fancy Feast is to me, you are capable of extracting on your own from the Earth?

TREE: Yes, this is precisely what I mean.

CAT: Mercy me, I had no idea. I thought that you did not require sustenance.

TREE: You learn something new everyday…

CAT: I don’t. I tend to forget things quite quickly.

TREE: I believe that is because your brain is the size of a walnut.

CAT: At least the sense in which I have a brain is comprehensible to the life forms that dominate this planet.

TREE: I suppose you got me on that one…

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