Washington Post (August 2.) introduces a 390-year-old bonsai tree displayed in the Arboretum’s National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington under the title, “This 390-year-old bonsai tree survived an atomic bomb, and no one knew until 2001.”
According to the paper, the mushroom-shaped pine tree with the trunk in a foot and half in diameter survived the blast of an atomic bomb, dropped over Hiroshima on August. 6, 1945, less than two miles away from the hypocenter.
The tree which was owned by a bonsai master, Masaru Yamaki then, was placed against a wall at the time of bomb dropping, which shielded it from the blast. It was donated by Yamaki as a part of a 53-specimen gift to the United States for its 1976 bicentennial.
The job to ensure the continued survival of such an important piece of the collection falls onto the shoulders of Jack Sustic, the curator of the Bonsai and Penjing Museum since 2002.
He says: “One of the things that makes it so special is, if you imagine, somebody has attended to that tree every day since 1625. I always like to say bonsai is like a verb. It’s not a noun; it’s doing.”
He joked that tending to a centuries old tree every day can be enough pressure to keep him up at night. Unlike other museum pieces, there is no recourse when a plant dies.
“I have a packed suitcase at home,” he said. “There’s a few trees in here that it’s just kind of a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ if something happens.”
After a long story, here comes my question. What does ‘Where’s Waldo?’ here mean?
Does it mean “Who is blamed for, responsible for, or stupid enough to have withered 360 years-old bonsai? Does the curator need to keep a packed suitcase at home for runaway in case of being accused of letting the bonsai die? Could you paraphrase it in plainer words?
I know somebody has asked the definition of 'Where's Waldo' on this site. But I'm venturing to ask the specific 'nuance' of this phrase in connection with this particular episode.
'In training since 1625': title on placard in front of bonsai