Why Orange Plastic Palm Trees?

Okay, I just have to say it.  What is it with brightly coloured plastic palm trees?  Up until a few years ago, I’d never seen one.  Then one day I noticed a pair of them in front of a Chinese food restaurant in Cochrane, Alberta.  I tried to be polite.  I averted my eyes from the garish spectacle and pretended I hadn’t seen them.

But, like dog balls, they were lamentably conspicuous.  And that comparison is actually quite apropos, when you take the plastic coconuts into account.  Unlike dog balls, however, one was bright yellow, and the other was bright orange.  And they lit up at night.  The trees, not the testicles.

Ooh.  Now I’m having a really disturbing mental image.  ‘Scuse me while I swill brain bleach through my ears.

Anyway, I thought these misplaced, misguided items were pretty much one of a kind.  Because really, who’d want twenty-foot-high psychedelic illuminated plastic palm trees?  In Alberta?

I got over my antipathy, because the food was (and is) excellent there.  The décor of the whole restaurant is slightly schizophrenic anyway.  The floor is constructed of dark-stained rough-hewn wooden planks that would be appropriate in a western saloon.  The windows stretch from floor to ceiling, twenty feet high, clad in sweeping, formal peach-coloured brocade draperies sashed with heavy burgundy satin tasselled ropes.  The walls are decorated with bright-red Chinese weavings, and there’s a blue-and-white porcelain fountain and a temporary tattoo dispenser in the lobby.  When you think about it, the palm trees fit right in.

But really, one of a kind, right?

Fast forward to yesterday.  I’m heading out to Manitoba again for the next couple of weeks, and I was somewhere between Medicine Hat, Alberta and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan when my horrified gaze was captured by… you guessed it.

A plastic palm tree.  Mounted on a campground sign beside the TransCanada highway, in the middle of Saskatchewan.

I would have pulled over to snap a picture, but I was doing 110 km/hr, and, frankly, I thought I might be seeing things.  It’s a long drive, after all.  But it was still there when I looked in the rearview mirror, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t hallucinate it.  And I’m pretty sure the green flecks in those brownies were zucchini.

When I searched “orange plastic palm tree” on the internet, I discovered these trees are apparently much more common than I thought.  There were a startling number of photos.  In fact, I ran across one photo of one with a multi-coloured trunk, striped in blue, brown, yellow and white.

Which leads me back to my original question:  WHY?

Yes, it can get pretty depressing living in a country where it’s winter eight months of the year.  Yes, I know what it’s like to be so desperate for the sight of something not-white that you watch the golf channel just for the sake of seeing green grass and water that isn’t frozen.

But if that’s the motivation, then why not buy a fake palm tree that looks like a palm tree?  Green.  With a brown trunk.

I guess it’s just one of the great mysteries of life.  So the only logical answer to “Why?” is “42”.