Monday, September 17, 2007

I Broke the Oldest Tree in Madrid

Among the things which separate us from those quadrupeds, be-gilled creatures and winged things with whom we share the Earth is the capacity to reason, the need - for weal or woe - to develop a sense of morality, and the inability to lick our genitals at will. And perhaps to leave our mark or footprint on this planet in some meaningful way. Like finding a cure for cancer, or finding a way to convert couscous into a clean-burning gasoline, or passing legislation against annoying cellphone ring tones. Yesterday, I broke the oldest tree in Madrid.

Go big or go home, that's what I alway say.

Yesterday marked Señor Gato Gringo's and my 6th wedding anniversary. Yes it seems like only yesterday that Evil Pinheads had chosen the week we got married to blow up vast chunks of the eastern U.S., wrecking havoc in the world of aviation, and more importantly nearly canceling our honeymoon. Terrorism hurts everyone.

Señor G.G. had a fabulous idea. Let's go to the Van Gogh "Final Landscapes" exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, he suggested. Today is the last day and we've been putting it off for a month. Huzzah! We moved to Madrid just so we could wake up on a Sunday morning and say, Let's go to the Van Gogh "Final Landscapes" exhibit at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum! So off we went to the Tiffani Amber-Thiessen Thyssen and marveled not so much at 29 of the artist's last paintings before he shot himself but at the other 3,000 people who had the same brilliant idea as Señor G.G. Plan B?

The hours have been extended to midnight, offered
Señor G.G.

Plan B brought us to the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid where we spent a pleasant hour or two looking feeling like old farts admiring the rhododendrons. Botanical Gardens are no longer the benign if not rather dull things of my childhood - we were eventually scared off by the security cameras poised menacingly over a tiny rare species of plant-cum-tree green thingy. If I touch it, will security descend from nowhere, pin me to the ground, cart me off, and charge me with crimes against rare botanicals? I asked. I wouldn't try, responded
Señor G.G. He is very wise.

Eventually our meanderings brought us to the 17th century gardens or park of El Buen Retiro - the once leisure estate of the camel-faced "Planet King", Felipe IV. Now it is possibly the most populous place in the entire city for baby strollers on any given Sunday. Truly, if Evil Pinheads really want to destroy Madrid, they should blow themselves up at Retiro. Near the estanque or pond where all the nobs go paddle-boating and lob pork rinds at the carp.

We had been at Retiro the previous Sunday in a valiant bid to mitigate the ruinous hangovers we had incurred the Night Before. True to its name, the park had proved to be a "pleasant retreat" but we wanted to see it through clearer eyes
and clearer heads. The plan this time was to get drunk at the park rather than beforehand. The plan - cunning in its simplicity - worked. In 32 °C temperatures, Señor G.G. and I spent a pleasant 4 hours or so looking feeling like old farts admiring the swans and turtles and rosebushes, punctuated by brief but regular stops at the "refreshment stands" conveniently scattered throughout the park. At our final rest stop, Señor G.G.'s grande proved to be a full litre while my mediana - at 650 ml. - was nothing to sneeze at either.

Well on the road to squiffdom, I suggested we take a shufti at the park's Bald Cypress tree (seen in its entirety above). Planted in 1633, it is believed to be The Oldest Tree in Retiro and quite possibly The Oldest Tree in Madrid. It was not difficult to find - it was big and it had a fence around it and we had a map. It was indeed a big tree and its ponderously heavy branches - laden with the Bald Cyprus version of pine cones - dipped to
Señor G.G height. Oooh, I want one! I slurred squealed in delight.

As
Señor G.G bent a branch down closer to my level, I greedily plucked a Bald Cyprus version of a pine cone - and, at the same time, a substantial piece of the actual tree. I looked at him. I broke the Oldest Tree in Madrid, I slurred said, aghast. You did, he said. We should leave, I slurred suggested. We should, he said.

Pocketing my pretty green
Bald Cyprus version of a pine cone, we nervously kept an eye out for security descending from nowhere, lest they try to pin me to the ground, cart me off and charge me for crimes against rare botanicals. And continued on as inconspicuously as possible to the nearby James Joyce Pub, where pint glasses of stout were calling our names.

Perhaps it might be a good idea if
security cameras were poised menacingly at the Oldest Tree in Madrid. On second thought, if they did, I probably would have been deported by now or at least charged with crimes against rare botanicals.

7 comments:

knarf said...

As vegetarians, I suppose you feel no guilt for amputating limbs from innocent trees?

Would you be so blase if it was a cow you broke?

For shame!

;-)

Anonymous said...

I for one will not report you to the arbor authorities.

La Gatita Gringa said...

Thanks so much anonymous. Yes, Knarf, I feel much shame

Cath said...

You're lucky you didn't get hauled off by some guys saying, "Badges!? We don't need no steenking badges!"

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