Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mistakes Are Okay

I make a lot of mistakes.  I don't tend to talk about them or share them, because, well... often I'm embarrassed about them.

However, I'm starting to think it is important to embrace them and *gulp* maybe even share them.

I've always had an interest in bonsai trees, but I had never had one, despite having an ever-expanding vegetable garden and tons of houseplants at our last home.

Shortly after we arrived here in Japan, Jeff bought me a couple of little bonsai trees at a local home store.  This one was my favorite:

I had no clue what it was, but I started studying and learned it was a Chinese Elm - known as a good "beginner bonsai".  Yay!  I also learned that my particular little tree was growing out of control and needed to be pruned.  I was afraid to do that, afraid to make mistakes, and so it continued to be messy  for weeks, until one night I got brave and...

I had studied and studied different styles of bonsai and tried to figure out what this one might want to be.  I couldn't decide, but finally I grabbed some scissors and nippers and went to work.  At first I was extremely cautious, a tiny snip here and there, but then I started to see the finished tree inside the mess of tiny branches and leaves and in a flurry of snipping, it was done.

I was reminded of a miniature acacia tree; I was SO happy with the results.

I noticed my little tree had some yellow leaves.  Every day more and more, and they were falling off.  Longer story short, once I started giving it some fertilizer, the yellowing of the leaves stopped.  However, then the leaves started to turn brown and fall off.  I became quite sure that I had OVER fertilized the poor thing.  I gave it a drowning of fresh rain water and crossed my fingers.

I kept caring for it like I'd read that I should, but in the end, ALL of its little leaves fell off.  The moss in the pot was brown and dead looking.  My beautiful little acacia tree turned into a pot of sticks and I was so mad at myself.

I have no pictures of this, because I didn't want to document my failure with my favorite little bonsai tree.

However, I kept watering and misting (with clean rain water!) and I noticed the tiniest of light green buds reappearing, here, there, and everywhere.

After the whole ordeal... this is what my little tree looks like!

It had an explosion of growth, changing colors from dark green to this:

Interestingly enough, when we first bought the tree, we noticed that the innermost leaves were speckled white.  We feared it meant the tree had some sort of disease, but in my studying I learned of a variety called the Variegated Chinese Elm.  I decided that's what I actually had, even though it only appeared on the tiny inside leaves.  Now the whole tree is variegated!

Also, the moss in the pot - that I was sure was dead - is turning bright green again.

So, my little "acacia tree" came through my bumbling attempts at bonsai care and while I'm still bumbling along, I'm learning more and more and am still enjoying my little forest of mini trees.  Now I actually wish I had taken pictures of the steps along the way to document the amazing change that the tree went through, from "death" to vibrant new growth.

On the topic of mistakes and realizing that I surprisingly wish I had documented them, I present this:

My latest saddle pad, in progress right now.  Last night I finished undoing an "epic" mistake on it.  I'm not even sure what happened, but I was happily stitching away with white thread, thinking I had my pattern memorized, only to realize: nope.  So I spent quite some time carefully undoing several rows and for the heck of it, I decided to take a picture.  This kind of thing has happened a few times during my saddle pad making adventures, but I'm not sure I've ever shared it before.

I make a lot of mistakes - and that's okay.

1 comment:

  1. You have discovered a great truth. It takes guts to rip up your own work -- but it's part of a wider, grander creative process. I call it 'using up your mistakes.' Kudos and many green leaves to you.