translated by Enrique Castano
Am I a Bonsaist? One often ponders this question, what we make of ourselves, and frequently we hesitate to give an honest answer. However, the reality is very simple to define if we are bonsaist or not.
To help with this estimation I will cite a few attitudes that are common among bonsaist and you can draw your own conclusions and accept if you are a one.
You know you are a bonsaist when it is not hard to get up before the sun rises and drive 100 miles to be in the right collecting place when the sun comes up. You wander, walking for six hours in the fields with several kilograms of equipment on your back; when you get home you still have strength to plant what you collected.
You begin to see bonsai in all plants with strange forms; when you walk through the street, instead of looking forward you look at all the trees, you kneel down just to see the trunk. You can’t pass through a nursery without stopping to see the same plants, pots and fertilizers you already know are there, and if you stop at the bookstore you no longer look at the books of your profession but you search for the suiseki or bonsai books instead.
You become a nature designer with a title, and you design your own garden for your bonsai and begin to hate people that when they see your bonsai say “and that weed.” The same people don’t understand that you save money for some time so you can buy that special concave cutters since in the tool box you already have one that you use for your electrical repairs. They also don’t understand how this cutter becomes part of your daily life.
You begin to program your holidays based on the re-collection potential of the places you’ve already been and begin to negotiate with your partner about going there at a certain time, since the moon will be in good place for collecting. At the end when you go out with the family, you come with the car full of stones, plants and seeds.
You realize you have friends of your childhood and bonsai friends. Your other friends look at you strangely when you talk about plants, nurseries or watering.
You travel several times, hundreds of miles, just to collect a certain tree “that you needed,” and then you travel more just to find one better. Before each trip, as you fall asleep, you begin to enumerate in your mind all of the tools and equipment that you have to take the next day for the collection.
On occasion you walk 100 meters and then another 200 and then 200 more and you do that for the rest of the afternoon without resigning to the fact that there is nothing worth collecting in that area.
When you travel for the weekend to see grandma, you take (just in case!) the tools, saws and bags for collecting.
The trees stop having a common name and now you only call them by their scientific name also you save and treasure each and every rock you could use to complement your bonsai.
You realize that your social life begins to lose its appeal, and if there is full moon you would rather be in your garden. You don’t want people to talk to you when you are working on your bonsai, but when you finish you call everyone in the family to see it.
Other reasons you know if you are a bonsais is that your friends and family members can only capture your attention when they say the word “bonsai.” And then you realize that you have more pictures of your trees than of your own children (Shhh, that’s a secret).
You know a day you get into the forest where you can find spiders, snakes and who knows what else, when before bonsai just thinking about it would make your skin crawl. You get together with your friends in the field and you get lost for hours coming back with your clothing all dirty, and a great trunk in your hands, just to hear, “Son throw out that stick and come to dinner.”
Suddenly everyone you know asks you to help them with their garden, or they want to know what to do with an orchid that is dying, or they send you a dead bonsai so you can save it! “Please I’m only a bonsaist! Not a miracle worker!”
Sometimes you find that after saving and buying that pot you wanted, a week later you find some better ones at another store.
Your biggest dream is to win the Lottery so you can travel to Japan. You look at the movie “karate kid” and stop in the parts were the bonsai come up so you can analyze them. You could paste pictures of bonsai all around your office and… well the list can go on, but don’t be scared. Don’t think you are crazy, better yet, think that you are a bonsaist and this is our passion.