A Sick Tree

It’s official.  I have now seen everything.  Truth-be-told, a person living in China these days can make that statement at least once a week, but this time it’s quite possible that it’s true–that there is nothing interesting or surprising left to see. I’m in Minnesota now, but a few weeks ago, just before I left town, I joined some colleagues for an evening at “The Bird’s Nest,” the local name for the main Olympic stadium in Beijing. It was a glorious summer evening and we were all very excited to actually get inside this structure that we have spent the last three years watching emerge from the land that used to house villages and farm fields.

Upon entering the beautifully landscaped grounds leading up to this gleaming modern stadium, I spotted a quintessential Chinese sight — peasants gathering plastic water and soda bottles to sell to recyclers.  It was an interesting juxtaposition.  As I was taking pictures of the peasants sorting bottles under a newly planted (replanted) tree, one of my friends said “hey, look what’s hanging in the tree.”  Lo and behold, there were 3 IV bottles hanging from the tree!  Stunned, we followed the tubes down the side of the tree to the base until we spotted the three attached needles sticking into the tree.  THIS TREE WAS ON AN IV DRIP!!!  No fooling. I offer the following photos as proof:

Once we recovered from our laughing fits, the questions that needed pondering in order to make sense of what we were looking at came fast and furious:
*What ailment does this tree have?
*Is the ailment terminal?
*It’s a transplanted tree (all Beijing trees are transplanted from somewhere else).  Maybe it is being rejected by this particular piece of ground.
*Is the air pollution killing it?
*Maybe it’s just starving to death in Beijing’s dry climate.
*What is in the IV bottle?  My first thought was Vitamin C, since in China the first attempted cure for just about any ailment is an IV drip of Vitamin C. Why not a tree?
*How did they decide where to insert the needles? Does the tree have a vein?
*Will this tree live long enough to see the Games in August, or will it end up as charcoal for the guy selling meatsticks on the street?

Like I said, it’s official now.  I have seen EVERYTHING.