Heat story….

Yesterday’s post made me remember a story from Japan…

My first year as an apprentice in Japan was a record setting heat wave. Temperatures reached into the low 100’s for weeks on end, and the humidity was wilting to those watering the trees…

They covered the heat wave on the news at night. One week a young carpenter fell off a roof dead of heat exhaustion, and the following day my teacher, Shinji Suzuki, handed out sombrero type hats and white shirts and forbade us to die. We added to this towels soaked in water and wrapped them around our necks. Both Tachi, my sempai, and I made it through all right and so did our hundreds of trees. But we got little work done during the hot surges. Watering was nearly nonstop.

One of the secondary effects of the extraordinary heat wave  of 2004 was that we got 4 times the number of typhoons that summer and fall compared to an average year. Prepping for a typhoon hit in the bonsai yard is unforgettable exhaustion…lifting or tying down every bonsai while being soaked by hard rain, and all the time you’re thinking that you will get no sleep that night as it’s like the life of a fireman, always ready to jump back into it to move something or tie something down that had been forgotten, and the wind blasting the house and keeping you awake rattling the windows until dawn. And you come in the next morning haggard, looking like you’ve just lost 9 rounds with someone who did not like you very much.

That’s my memory of extreme heat and typhoons. The heat got you wobbly, and the typhoons neatly finished you off…

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1 Comment

  1. […] Michael’s last two posts are prompted by the heat wave out west. One is a very timely tip on watering and the other is a story from his time as a bonsai apprentice in Japan. […]

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