Monday, June 8, 2009

Just Me and the Trees

That's all it's been. Just me and the trees.

A dire need to step back from certain aspects of the bonsai world as it has become, brought me back to basics. I needed a gentle reminder of the reasons I do this. And there is no gentler reminder than full bonsai benches waiting anxiously for me to pull my attention back from drama and politics and fix my thoughts on the important things.

Just me and the trees.

Several new trees have made their way in to my hands. Alright, so more than a few. Some new pieces of material of species I've worked with previously, including another 50 year old kingsville boxwood from Edna down at Green Gardens that will be a rather unconventional bonsai. Several junipers, including a very large J. chinensis "Blue Point" that has my fiance scratching his head and wondering aloud "how do you make a seven foot tall tree in to a bonsai?" A number of maple seedlings have been pricked out and potted from last year's seeding, not only Japanese Maples, but a number of local species as well(not all of which are destined for bonsai, but also for planting out in conjunction with my son's school next spring). A larger piece of stock, a Sharp's Pygmy Japanese Maple that will be the largest maple stock I've ever worked with, it staring at me through the living room window, bright and green and eager.

There are also a number of species I have not worked with before. Some just because I hadn't purchased them, and some because they aren't at all what most people would consider suitable species for bonsai for one reason or another. A very small cotoneaster found its way to my benches, as well as a Japanese Larch. Of the three that I don't typically see as bonsai, there is a Top Hat blueberry that I have already started work on, and am *very* happy with. I stumbled across a Dwarf Eastern White Pine when I wasn't even in search of stock one day. The needles are smaller than I'd expected, almost as small as the needles on my J. White Pine, and I'll be giving it a shot, though I might need a hand bending some of these branches (which are pretty monstrous) in to position when the time comes. A Heptacodium miconiodides, or a Seven Sons Tree has be wondering mostly invovling if the four inch leaves will reduce at all (if you've ever worked with this species and have any tips, let me know!). The stock itself has beautiful exfoliating bark, great movement, and even if it never makes a "show quality bonsai", I find that I don't really care. Just me and the trees, right?

Several smaller indoor trees followed me home occasionally from a variety of places. I do little work with indoor tropicals. I have very little free space in a very small home, but several changes and the addition of a window sill on a large bay window where none had been previously suddenly made it possible. Serissa, ficus, scheflerra and fukien tea are now settled in different parts of the house (though some have moved outside for the summer, I had very bad luck with my serissas last year and their change from outdoor summer plants to indoor winter plants, so they get to be indoor plants year round now. They are happy enough, I'll leave them alone.).

Just me and the trees.

So where does this leave the society, bonsai blog and the rest of the internet aspects that I had been participating in?

Honestly, I'm not sure yet. There are some things I miss doing, and some places I miss being. And most of all, there are some people I miss being able to talk to on a regular basis. I needed a hiatus from all of it, time to recenter and refocus on what was important and what wasn't. It isn't necessary to point fingers and proclaim nonsense, and I'm not going to do so. Additional drama is never a good thing, and I've made myself a promise of not getting sucked back in to the parts that drive me nuts and just do what's important.

So, what's important then? The people, mostly. The sense of community with folks who have similar interests and a drive to share. Not just sharing their knowledge, but also their time and their friendship. I do miss being able to have people I trust to ask a question to. I miss working on the species sheets at KoB, and shuffling photos together for galleries at AoB. I miss working on my own Kitsune Bonsai project, as well as using this blog to share what I am working on and to organize my thoughts.

It's amazing how making a mental list of the things you enjoy against a list of the things that drive you nuts can focus you down to what is worth doing. It's so simple. And it has removed a lot of things now that I'm just not interested in wasting my time on, because they bring more grief than peace. There's enough grief in any life without inviting more in.

Just you and me and all of the trees.

I'll be spending the next week or so puttering around, mostly with my trees when the sun is shining (it's been raining for weeks here), but also starting to get back involved where I can, and where the door is still open.



Jonas said...

Hi Heather,

I'm glad you started writing again, I enjoy your site. And I really appreciated this post - after a long pause from bonsai I'm now enjoying a return to "just me and the trees" myself.


Heather Hartman said...

Thanks Jonas. I'm glad to know that other people sometimes have the same point of view.

I've been enjoying your blog as well, and I'll keep looking forward to your posts. :)