A 2×4 upside the head

400 trillion to one. Big number (unless you’re the government I guess). That’s the odds of me or you being born and showing whatever unique character traits that make me and you be, well, you and I.

I try my best to honor those numbers.

And that’s a swelling bud (to the left of the pic). That’s what you look for when you want to repot a deciduous tree.

It’s mid-January (here in Orlando Florida) and it’s a bit early for bud break, even though we’ve been generally cooler this winter, so I better get to work. I hope it means it’s going to be an early spring.

But trees don’t really know the weather, that’s an anthropomorphic fallacy we create for ourselves. Trees are just a collection of cells, like ourselves, though they do have senses we don’t. Maybe the sun is more active or something.

That’s some good growth for January. The tree is American elm. To me, a very special subject and specimen.

I call the tree, “The 2×4”.

In Europe that might be called a 48×98. 2×4 sounds more poetic though, don’t you think?

I collected it with my good friend Guaracha, behind a fellow bonsai friend’s house, in his woods. We had but a trowel, a small hand saw a machete, and ourselves. We did our best. The tree literally split in half when we began to rock it back and forth. In half longways up the trunk.

Pretty interesting to me.

Not so much to others, of course. When I first posted it, years ago, someone called it

“…board straight, with no nebari, no deadwood interest, and totally unfit for bonsai .”

I had a different vision, being the contrary cur I tend to be.

A split like this is not something that happens often, but I wasn’t going to give up on it.

I had an idea what would happen as it aged and grew.

Here’s what it looked like back then (a blog post it had made an appearance in too) :

I had vision I guess.

It’s developed, just as I thought it would.

Lots of branches to work with.

Especially the top.

The deadwood has aged well. Totally naturally with no treatment or carving.

Let’s get to work.

The first cut will be here, for taper.

Chop!

Then some clean up on the right, to give the left the dominant top.

Now the wire.

Making some progress.

It’s often said (by me too) that one of the best ways to accomplish an aged look is to have a taper in the trunk and limbs. But the movement is just as effective. That’s where the wiring comes into play. It is a weird natural phenomenon that old branches tend to twist the higher up in the tree they get. I like to think it’s because the sun is punishing the trees by burning and torturing the higher branches for the tree’s arrogance of trying to reach up too high into the realm of the sun kingdom’s sky. It probably has more to do with the movement of water from the roots to the apex of the tree.

But the mean sun story sounds better. Poetry again.

I know what you’re thinking, he’s just a weirdo.

Or you’re asking how I’m going to seal that wound. I’m not.

The quote of the month belongs to bonsai master Walter Pall, about wound sealing on trees:

“Yes, it is fat that you put on your hands when you stroke the tits of the cow”

https://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.com/2009/01/about-sealing-wounds-on-trees.html?fbclid=IwAR2NwJbnTbydjnRm1JcDqTp5KGA04vj2kWVFh_dytWF8KW02j6ugUoIWBB0&m=1

We don’t need any wound sealant.

Now for a pot. Let’s see what I have…

I could use this interesting piece I made out of a broken pot.

Yea, that’s a welded steel…thing…bolted onto the missing bit of the pot’s edge.

Interesting, but no, not for this tree. Let’s see….what else. Unglazed, glazed, cream or green or blue……

Hmmmnnnnn….All kinds of pots.

Ah! Here’s a good one.

It has an interesting texture, and it’s big enough.

It’s even signed.

It’s unknown to me, but I’m sure it’s searchable.

There we go.

Looks good, and the nebari is quite evident.

The deadwood has an ancient feel to it.

There’s even movement.

I think it’s nice.

Of course, I always did.

I’m going to end the post with a short prose poem from an author named Helen Buckley. I hope I don’t get in trouble for sharing it. It’s quite sad at the end but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

“Once a little boy went to school.

One morning

The teacher said:

“Today we are going to take a picture.”

“Good!” thought the little boy.

He liked to make all kinds;

Lions and tigers,

Chickens and cows,

Trains and boats;

And he took out his box of crayons

And began to draw.

But the teacher said, “Wait!”

“It is not time to begin!”

And she waited until everyone looked ready.

“Now,” said the teacher,

“We are going to make flowers.”

“Good!” thought the little boy,

He liked to make beautiful ones

With his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said, “Wait!”

“And I will show you how.”

And it was red, with a green stem.

“There,” said the teacher,

“Now you may begin.”

The little boy looked at his teacher’s flower

Then he looked at his own flower.

He liked his flower better than the teacher’s

But he did not say this.

He just turned his paper over,

And made a flower like the teachers.

It was red, with a green stem.

On another day

The teacher said:

“Today we are going to make something with clay.”

“Good!” thought the little boy;

He liked clay.

He could make all kinds of things with clay:

Snakes and snowmen,

Elephants and mice,

Cars and trucks

And he began to pull and pinch

His ball of clay.

But the teacher said, “Wait!”

“It is not time to begin!”

And she waited until everyone looked ready.

“Now,” said the teacher,

“We are going to make a dish.”

“Good!” thought the little boy,

He liked to make dishes.

And he began to make some

Those were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said, “Wait!”

“And I will show you how.”

And she showed everyone how to make

One deep dish.

“There,” said the teacher,

“Now you may begin.”

The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish;

Then he looked at his own.

He liked his better than the teacher’s

But he did not say this.

He just rolled his clay into a big ball again

And made a dish like the teachers.

It was a deep dish.

And pretty soon

The little boy learned to wait,

And to watch

And to make things just like the teacher.

And pretty soon

He didn’t make things of his own anymore.

Then it happened

That the little boy and his family

Moved to another house,

In another city,

And the little boy

Had to go to another school.

The teacher said:

“Today we are going to take a picture.”

“Good!” thought the little boy.

And he waited for the teacher

To tell what to do.

But the teacher didn’t say anything.

She just walked around the room.

When she came to the little boy

She asked, “Don’t you want to take a picture?”

“Yes,” said the little boy.

“What are we going to make?”

“I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher.

“How shall I make it?” asked the little boy.

“Why, anyway you like,” said the teacher.

“And any color?” asked the little boy.

“Any color,” said the teacher.

And he began to make a red flower with a green stem. “

~Helen Buckley, The Little Boy

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *