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Vail Daily column: Threatening to kill a house guest

Jeffrey Bergeron
Biff America
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Admittedly, I’ll occasionally embellish or use poetic license in columns for humor or dramatic effect. And sometimes I lie.

But you have to believe me when I quote my wife’s words to Hibby this morning; she thought I was out of earshot.

“Hibby,” she whispered. “If you don’t perk up soon, Jeffrey is going to kill you.”

Ellen was absolutely correct – if Hibby does not show any signs of improvement – I am going to kill her and enjoy doing so. Hibby has been an unwanted house guest for months; before that she lived in our front yard.

Hibby is short for Hibiscus. The hibiscus is a flowery bush/plant grown in temperate, tropical or sub-tropical climates. Though we live in a climate with a growing season as short as Sarah Palin’s reading list, Ellen bought that tropical flower for our front yard.

Our home rests on dredge rocks covered with 5 inches of top soil. Planting trees, bushes, or even large plants is hard work. Despite that we have a yard that, in summer, is filled with growing stuff. After about five years of me working like a convict digging holes, we reached an agreement that no more new herbage would be purchased with a root ball bigger that a orange; if we wanted more trees, we would hire a backhoe.

In early August, Ellen and her mother were attending a cousin’s wedding in Aspen to which I was not invited. (The bride’s mother had previously seen me on TV.)

After Ellen and her mum left, I arrived home and found a large bush blocking the front door with a note, “This was on sale at City Market, Mum bought it for us. Don’t blame me. Will you plant it?”

What followed was 90 minutes of manual labor with a pick, ax crow-bar and pointed shovel. It wasn’t until I got Hibby in the ground did I read the tag saying the hibiscus plant likes plenty of water, high humidity and temperatures in the 80s.

As luck would have it, that weekend was unseasonably warm, and the plant was actually blooming when Ellen returned from Aspen. The bush was in fact red, lush and beautiful. Ellen gave me an “I told you so look” and named it Hibby.

Two days later, the leaves fell off, never to reappear. For the remainder of the summer the bush consisted of ten scrawny branches with no leaves or flowers.

I was content to let Hibby die in the front yard and yank her up by her dead roots next spring. But just after the first real snow in October, using persuasions, promises and threats, Ellen got me to dig up Hibby, place it in a traveling pot to bring inside our home.

For the next three months she has been trying to nurse it back to health. She also began talking to it as if it were human.

As a reminder, hibiscus plants like humid conditions and temp in the 80s. The last time our house has seen 80 degrees was in August for about five minutes. But we do get a fair amount of sun. Ellen has been moving the plant around the house to wherever the sun is hitting. I’ll come home on a cold day from skiing to find Hibby propped up on the couch – just where the sun it hitting. If I want to lie on said couch to read, I have to move Hibby. If I move it to a place that is not warm enough, Ellen will pick up the plant to move it to the next sunniest spot all the while apologizing to the bush for my cruelty.

The bush is like a bad houseguest. It is always in the way as well as hogging the sunniest spots. Also I’m tired of my mate constantly talking to a plant; there is only room for one senile person in our marriage. Moreover, I also suspect she is intentionally leaving the thermostat turned up while I’m away to keep the home warm for the plant.

Despite all that, Hibby looks like a product of nuclear fallout.

Yesterday, I came home to find Hibby in the living room in front of our gas fireplace wrapped in a sleeping bag.

I told Ellen if the plants does not perk up, I’m going to throw it out. When I heard Ellen giving the bush the heads up. I walked down the stairs to find Hibby, not blooming, but definitely showing some signs of life.

Ellen looked at me beaming and said, “I think she is coming around. Do you know how to build a greenhouse?”

I know this is an unreasonable sentiment to direct a human emotion towards a bush, but I’m beginning to despise that plant.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com. Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com


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