Rendered Fat Content


Kanō Sanraku: Set of sliding doors of Plum tree (early 17th century)

" … the Sum total of all I could not bear to Prune."

With Spring comes the great cutting back, the annual Pruning effort which eliminates unwanted excess while encouraging new growth. Pruning makes space for both new and different. It co-opts default repetition while heading off degradation. Even weeding might be considered a form of Pruning, since it, too, eliminates some life to encourage others.

I have always been a reluctant pruner, hesitating with my hedge trimmers and shy with my clippers.
I have sometimes taken years to take that first step and tie into some obviously overgrown shrub. I justify my hesitance with nonsense stories about preserving flowering potential or favoring the overgrown look, but it's all smokescreen. Knowing how difficult creation can be, I find it difficult to take away any kind of growth.

Pruning turnes out to be one of those activities which seems heartless but are actually heart filled. It seems that the one handling the clippers is a killer. The one wielding the saw is assaulting that tree when he's actually grooming it, helping to prevent disease and wind damage. He's a benefactor performing surgery. A dentist.

I see now that part of my difficulty switching seasons from Winter to Spring most probably has to do with me suddenly expected to perform these surgeries. Through the Winter, however long and lonely, the flora need have no fear of me, nor I of myself. The imagined bad haircut with which I might leave the mock orange never comes under consideration. My clippers sit idle. Come President's Day, though, those primeval expectations revive and commence to haunting me. The promises I made last summer to trim down those viburnum which last year threatened to overwhelm the North yard come back to be fulfilled and my heart fills with misplaced sympathy for shrubbery in desperate need of my surgery.

My heart bleeds unnecessarily. Even I eventually cede to the inexorable forces of nature. I'm just a hesitant sniper. I acquire targets then balk at firing. Even when Reconning, I make up stories about the absolute necessity of whatever I'm carrying that might much better have been left behind me here, since I couldn't find it in my heart to leave it back there where it probably more properly belonged. I remain a hesitant Pruner, one who knows better but often refuses to act upon his superior understanding, settling for a status quo which never proves as static as I imagine it might be.

I remain the sum total of all I could not bear to Prune.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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