Of all the things I’ve tried hard to kill by paying too much attention to them, this Bush always comes back strong. It has not suffered from aggressive pruning twice a year, piles of freezing snow on its head, or an occasional electric mower shoved at its feet.
Still, in what seem like the early miles in trying to understand each plant and tree and Bush I oversee, at least know their formal names – whether they prefer dry or wet, sun or shade – do they want to be left alone or attended? – I understand this one thing, this big thorny Bush.
Thorny Bush is a test problem and a statement. It’s a yard-care flight simulator. What choices will you make when the thorny Bush slowly grows into a concern? When you finally address tB, which will be the character of your approach? Aggression, Consideration, Empathy, Blunt Force, Apathy, Joy?
When you’re done solving tB, how do you feel? Because that’s just as important as the way you moved through the process, and the way tB makes you feel when you stand back and look what you’ve done with it will affect the way you approach solving tB in the future.
I’ve approached tB twice a year since Spring 2014 and made several different technique adjustments. At first the thing had grown so large that it was literally reaching out every time I walked by, begging for attention. And it had grown some large thorns. And it had pooped out yellow and red hard fruits all underneath where the undergrowth was all tangled up. SO I whacked it back a little, but by that Fall it had come back even thornier, so I took measures, cutting deep.
Next Spring I waited to see what the weird, uneven ball I’d made of tB was going to do. It was unfazed and when I passed by it each morning and evening it said, “Made it all wobbly looking, Man, didn’t take your time. But here you go – try again.” So when the arms all grew back, I took myself around the problem and made note of not just how much to cut back, but what shape the solution should take.
Literally circling tB, not trying to envision what I wanted the solution to look like, but trying to let tB tell me how it wanted to be solved. Letting tB solve tB eliminated the unnecessary static I brought into the equation. That provides an added benefit to the solver of tB in that they are free to take a meta-step back and enjoy some context.
Enough with that. Just look. Down at the feet, can you see what’s going on where the Bush touches the ground? This is important how the thing is rooted and footed. Clear away until you can see the integral parts of the structure, then take away everything that doesn’t add to what it supports. If new things are coming up from the base, do they contribute or not? Can’t tell? Wait a few months, keep an eye on things. Go all the way around and define the base. See how it wants to be strong, and make empathetic cuts.
Get up, go out in the street, take in the entire context, admire the strong base of tB, and see how it connects with the landscape. Now it looks different. It’s not a scribble hanging across your path, now it’s some kind of shape that defines your path. What kind of shape is up to you.