When I look outside, sometimes the Yucca tree has fallen over. I sigh in an exaggerated fashion, and exchange glances with the dog, who sits beside me at his specially constructed desk, which was made with love by our carpenter-friend, Craig.
He – the dog – is usually busy working on his dog laptop, while I am usually busy working on my human laptop. On occasion, I will accidentally glance at his computer screen, and instead of working, I can see that he is doing personal tasks. For example, he might be updating his Notes.app with the latest locations of his four current decaying bone projects. This is fine. I think we all work better when we have breaks, and we also work better when we feel like our lives are in order. He works pretty hard, and at least he doesn’t sit on dog Facebook all day.
If the tree is down, and we have exchanged our glances, we have a small routine for what comes next. He follows me to the back door, and I open it, and I wait for him to jump out. He is superstitious about the door beads, which keep out the insects, and he has to wait for them to be perfectly still before he can dive through them. This may take a while. I might make a cup of coffee if the wind is shaking the beads.
After stepping onto the bricks beyond the back door (there is a door mat, but again, the dog is superstitious about this, and will not put his paws on it), we make a hard left for the tree. The dog, much faster than I, leaps like a bunny rabbit. He takes three jumps, then he’s sitting by the Yucca. The bottom of the tree is fixed into the ground, as it should be, but there’s a sharp kink in the trunk, and the tree, in general, is trying to be as flat on the ground as it can possibly be. I sit down too, and I talk while the dog is motionless.
What’s the matter, I say. You have fallen over again.
We wait for an answer. The dog becomes bored fairly quickly, and will casually place his foot in his mouth, as part of his cleaning routine, or he might have a lazy back-scratch. He comes to attention when I start talking again.
Tree, I say. You do this sometimes. You should communicate. Would you prefer to be on your side? Are you growing towards a certain friend-plant, so that you two can be together? Is the plant on your other side a bit smelly, and you want to get away from it? Are you feeling depressed? If you talk to us, we can help.
We wait, and the dog takes his part in the routine, and tip-taps forward a few steps, and sniffs the Yucca tree, as though he might find some clue. Then he sniffs the air, around, to gauge whether there is love in the air, or a smelly plant neighbour. He comes back, and sits by me, and we wait for another couple of minutes.
Come on, I say. Use your words.
This is typically the end of our routine. We shrug, in our thoughts, and return to the back door; this time I hold the door beads aside for the dog, so that we can enter directly. Then we return to our desks, and our laptops, and continue with our work. The tree has not yet spoken, but the dog has suggested that we could find a way for it to email us, maybe with some sort of Arduino device. I think this is a good idea, and we will look into it, in the new year.