For as long as I’ve had access to a driver’s licence and local plant stores or my Grandparent’s patch of the backyard, I have always been a fan of the secret or rather not so secretive community behind the art of Bonsai.
The art of Bonsai and what it represents can be stated as being simplistic and yet, I find it to be incredibly detailed and dedicated to each and every creation. Whether it’s the art, dedication of each taker as they tenderly love and care for each plant as they twist, turn, trim and train each bonsai to be one of utter perfection; I have always found peace at knowing once upon a time these beautiful specimens weren’t so beautiful.
Upon discovering that Brisbane Botanical Garden located at the base of Mount Coot-tha had a bonsai garden, I had my own version of a Kristen Bell moment minus the sloth. After coming down from my high of bonsai knowledge, I begged Lady Blacksnot III to drive us down the mountain so we could inhale the architecture that involves bonsai.
Prior to my Kristen Bell moment of epic proportion and Lady Blacksnot III trying to ‘borrow’ a bonsai, we walked the cultured and captivating grounds in the Japanese garden.
Walking in a daze and awe at what I was seeing, I paused every now and then to run my hands lovingly over the moulded, structured and sculptured bushes within the Japanese garden. From an outsider’s POV as I got plenty of strange and queer looks from those around me, it appeared like I was merely feeling the twigs, leaves and spiky little points.
In reality, I was trying to discover and unlock the secrets, thoughts and moments each plant had experienced since their planting. In a sense, I was trying to gain the stability and growth they have gone through and implement these aspects within my own life.
It seemed to become ever more apparent when Lady Blacksnot and I strolled across pebble littered ground that tempted those upon them to think seriously about their life. That was until we came across a stream speckled with floating leaves, swishing water and boulders.
Boulders that were beckoning for both Lady Blacksnot III and myself to gather our woman power, girl courage and titanium balls to leave the shit that’d been plaguing us for months. Which all could be done by simply taking a leap of faith.
Being the ballsier one out of us both, Lady Blacksnot III went about delicately hopping over the bubbling and tinkling stream. Only to come to a sudden stop she pulled a John Travolta move from Pulp Fiction before coming over the last stone in the stream and shit hurdle to land safely on the other side.
Then it was my turn.
As I stared at LBS who just so happened to be standing on the other side with a smirk on her face, I inhaled and exhaled the bullshit that had been plaguing me. The fear of not passing my mid-semester and end of semester exams, never waking up to find ‘you’re now eligible to graduate‘ or the missed opportunities all melted away into a pile of disregarded nonsense.
For I soon discovered that there was nothing to fear as I already knew the material required for my exams but it had to be unlocked. As for the graduating thing, I’ve heard most students experience this fear towards the end of their degree and finally, the only thing that is going to prevent me from missing out on opportunities is a deficit bank account or my worst enemy, me.
Strolling past a small group of visitors, I paused briefly in my stride to look back at that little stream before turning back around. It was in that minute of glancing at the bustling stream that I knew where I was meant to go in life.
My next destination of travel was to the Bonsai Garden.
My moment of excitment was soon shattered when I found myself somewhat knocked to the ground by a couple with their 4WD buggy and screaming kid attached. Having previously been one of those people who’d glare at a parent because their child was unfortunately out of control, I simply wished I could turn my hearing off.
While dealing with my ear drums threatening to shatter and a migraine lurking in the background, Lady Blacksnot III merely strolled amongst the mortals like it was any given Sunday and as nothing affected her. I guess this is one of the many benefits of being deaf.
Losing LBS in the process of collapsing against a wall and fanning myself as the parent’s packed up their child and left without a backwards look, I managed to pull myself off the wall and went about finding my missing wing woman. As to being the rebel at heart when she is with me, I found her standing next to a bonsai that had a sign above it stating, ‘do NOT touch the bonsai’.
Safe to say when it comes to LBS’ court hearing on why she opted to not follow rules that were clearly labelled in bold black writing and persist on touching the bonsai, I won’t be able to represent her as I will be a key witness.
In this case, I plead the fifth for I may or may not have been encouraging her to take a photo that looks like she is going to touch the bonsai.
Sharing a laugh over the photo I had taken of LBS trying to touch a bonsai, or make it appear like she was about to, we set off to explore some more after leaving our jail bait bonsai behind. As we trailed and ducked in and out of the sun strewn path, we came to a stop and I soon discovered my favourite bonsai.
We both stood in front of this little bonsai for a couple of minutes before moving onto the next little gorgeous bonsai. However when standing in front of the next bonsai, I excused myself and returned to my favourite little bonsai to have another look at it.
Although the structure of the bonsai had been tenderly cared for it was manipulated into being another exquisite specimen of art and workmanship, my gaze kept returning to the leaves that were sporadically strewn through its otherwise bare limbs.
I discovered why it would become my favourite out of all the bonsai I had seen.
Lady Blacksnot III came to join me once again and both of us stood in front of this particular bonsai, staring at it like it was a rare piece of art. To me, it represented strength and resilience this bonsai must have experienced when its little limbs were wrapped with wire, so its branches could be formed into perfection.
Finally it represented the stubbornness that lives inside of this little plant.
Instead of giving up and allowing its leaves to fall from its branches to become a crumbling mess that’d be swept away by the wind or tender, it continued to provide sustenance to the remaining leaves that clung to life. In a funny way, I thought about the journey I have been on since I turned 21 and actually decided to become an adult and found myself comparing my life as a bonsai tree.
Like anything we produce, grow and/or desire as a human being, it all starts with the outcome of what our soon-to-be growing bonsai is going to represent. In my family and how my life has panned out so far, it all starts at ground level and in particular, the soil.
Having come from a proud blue collar working family background and therefore have had to live off the land more cases than one, the soil represents what has been brought and provided to our kitchen table. It has allowed for the nutrients, minerals and much required vitamins to see me grow from being the flower sniffing toddler in a nappy to a full fledged and sleep deprived college student who is wishing to make something of her life.
The soil is where I have semi-planted my roots although it keeps travelling to different locations as I find out where I truly wish to settle permanently. It has provided me with the stability and grounded-ness I need, desire and want. This stability and grounded-ness provides the bonsai trunk and family to be supported while soaking in and embracing the history that has been passed down through time.
As time witnesses deaths, marriages and the next generation roaming the earth, the family bonsai history will no doubt be written and unwritten countless times. All the while time sees the coming and goings of new leaves and babies be created, birthed and grow as we trail behind them, teaching them of the history, knowledge and strength that comes from our love and movement of wishing to create a better future for them.
The fruits of our labour, love and commitment of wanting a better and more efficient future for the next generation of bonsai can be seen with each new bloom. With each new and delicate little bloom, its simply waiting for the perfect moment to spring from its cocooned little nest of protection. Where it shall unfold the fragile petals that have been cocooned before coming to a rest in utter perfection.
And that my Dearest Reader is the reason why I love and absolutely adore discovering the art of bonsai.
Until next time,