I first fell in love with bonsai back when I still lived in Southern California and my sister-in-law and I toured the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. Some of the specimens were hundreds of years old. Their little stunted trunks were massive and gnarled. How do you get trees to do that?
Enter an acquaintance from Georgia that I met through other friends. He has spent years working on his bonsai collection. He told me how he killed many of them in the process of learning how to do it and he encouraged me to try it.
Well, I never could seem to fit it into my schedule. I did buy a book about two years ago and was all enthused, but alas, that was a far as it got.
The closest place I could find to show me what to do is two hours north of me in Wilmington, NC. I called there earlier in the week to find out the hours they were open. Ronnie told me that on Saturday morning at 10, he gives a class. Yippee! So instead of driving up on that day, I held off until this morning. Rain was predicted, so I gave myself a little extra time in case of an accident or bad conditions.
I left home at 7:45 this morning, stopped and filled my gas tank and bought a bagel. About 15 minutes later, as I was heading north, the raindrops began. A little further along, the sky was so dark and menacing that I hoped I wasn’t going to caught in a vortex and dropped in the ocean. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to swim to shore. The rain was pounding down so hard I could hardly see where the lane was. And I was only 30 minutes into the trip. I still had another hour to hour and a half to go!
Now I have to say … driving in rain is very stressful for me. When I was a teenager I stopped suddenly at a red light and spun around and around through that intersection. My Guardian Angel kept me safe because I didn’t collide with anything as I came to a stop. I never got over that frightening experience. So, on this trip, my hands were glued to the steering wheel! When the rain was pounding down the hardest, I was wishing my nose could have been on the windshield so I could have seen better. How do all these other drivers see so well that they can zoom past? I couldn’t see … how could they?
My GPS quit working a while ago, so I was driving with my Mapquest directions as I was coming into downtown Wilmington in heavy rain. Yikes! Getting to the place was actually a piece of cake, thankfully. Finding how to enter the property was a little more confusing. But, I made it. The parking lot had these big ole potholes — small lakes, really. So instead of changing my shoes, I kept on my paint spattered Crocs. By this time the rain was lighter, but I still needed my umbrella to get to the door. I read the sign that said, “Ring the bell.” I can follow directions with the best of them. I rang the bell. A man opened the door and looked at me. Okkaay … “Bonsai?” He pointed to all the vegetation around me on tables.
“Do you want indoor or outdoor,” he asked. “Outdoor,” I responded. I already have so many indoor plants that when I have to bring them in for the winter, I don’t have enough room for them. He pointed to these cute cypress ones and said, “$50.” I asked him how you care for them. He then informed me that you water them and when they need trimmed you bring them back and he trims them. “If you try to do it yourself, you’ll kill them.”
“Well, I want to learn how to do it myself,” I sputtered. I was feeling intimidated by him, which doesn’t happen often. I’m usually the one intimidating, if I can believe what people tell me. He told me he gave classes on Saturday mornings. I was becoming very confused, what with the rain and intimidation. My mind was racing, isn’t this Saturday morning? Yes, I’m sure it is.
So, I bravely said, “Isn’t this Saturday? Where’s the class?”
“Not today … too wet.” Swell. Just swell. I’ve driven 2 hours through a monsoon, used a quarter tank of gas, bought a bagel and there’s no class!
So, I give him my best response. “These are too expensive for me.”
“I have some indoor ones for $25.” He took me into a greenhouse and showed me cute little plants and gave me an explanation of how you want certain shapes. All the while the raindrops were falling on my head and ruining my hairdo. So what did I do? I bought one!
I went on this adventure to get a free bonsai class, spent money on gas and a bagel, plus a bottle of expensive water and I BOUGHT a bonsai plant. An indoor one, at that! When did I turn into a wimp?? I have friends who wouldn’t have believed me, if they had observed me. Wimpy is not part of my character!
As I was driving back home, realizing I had spent over four hours and not achieved my objective, with the rain still falling, I was once again struck by the fact that some people see better than me through their windshields. I decided when I bought a new car, I’m was going to get one that had more speeds on the wipers than just intermittent and regular. I really need a car with a higher speed for when it’s raining really hard. So I began trying to see around my steering wheel to look at my wiper switch. What? Are you kidding me?
I’ve owned this car for 10 years and never knew there was a higher speed! Sure enough, it said, INT, LO, and HI. Who knew? I guess besides adding “Wimp” to my description, I need to add “Clueless.”