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  • Brian Martin

Bonsai!

May 14, 2020:

Every picture tells a story, don’t it? A popular refrain used in a song sung by Scottish rock star turned crooner Rod Stewart (omg…I’m dating myself). I always wondered though, was he asking me a question, or was he telling me that this was in fact the case?

When I first planted my Scots (Scotch) Pine several years ago it looked pretty meek. The fact that I was still working when I put it in the ground left me little time to manage it, but fortunately it lived anyway and thickened up to the point where I had to trim it back a few times. I used my manly gas-powered hedge trimmer, which I thought worked pretty well. Imagine, if you would, pine needles flying off each crooked branch like blades of grass out the side of a lawn mower. Quick and easy.

As I understood it though, the whole point of a Scots Pine is to showcase it’s Bonsai like personality, which would generally benefit from the tender attention of someone who is both patient and artistic. Sage like qualities my offspring may contend I’m conceivably lacking in. Well…the former if not the latter anyways.

I remember reading somewhere that acting is the willingness to fall down in front of people and though my progenies may be close in their assessment of my shortcomings (I’ll leave that for others to consider), the one thing that I do know for sure is that I’ve been falling down my whole life, so why stop now. It was time to tackle something new like manicuring this coniferous tree.

I pulled out the clippers, trimmers and scissors and prepared myself for the task. There I was, Mr. Myagi, the aged Japanese Sensei from the movie The Karate Kid (you know, wax on wax off). Not only was Mr. Myagi a master instructor, he was also a horticulturalist (Ya, I know, I look nothing like him but hey, you play your character and I’ll play mine).


I slowly and deliberately began to snip away at the clusters of overgrown pine needles on the end of each kinked and extended arm of the sinewy tree, revealing through this delicate and arduous process the twisted tentacled fingers supporting these long waxy pins.

It's during tedious times like these that my mind will drift, flipping through moments of my life like cards on a Rolodex. I was reminded of the time that I was a pitcher in an orthodox fastball league and how I had spent many hours at the tennis court down the street from where I lived wizzing a softball much like a frisbee against a partition, targeting spots to hit forty-three feet away.


As crazy as it may have seemed to those playing tennis, I knew that the measure of success I enjoyed on the mound correlated directly to the time spent staring down that brick-wall. That time was the difference between a quality strike when the pressure was on, or a wild pitch.


It was these types of experiences that helped me to realize that you get out of something what you put into it. No different than a marriage, playing an instrument, or attempting the ancient Japanese tradition of Bonsai.


At the end of the day, toiling away in the garden can be a pretty satisfying experience and so can revealing the character of a plant you had no idea had any until you put that time into it. Sure, there's a lot more work to be done, but should you find yourself having a similar experience in your garden, stop and take a snapshot because, Every picture tells a story, don’t it?



Until next time.

P.S. Thanks for reading.

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