Bonsai and Football

Huh??? Bonsai and football?  Yes, an unlikely pair of activities but this is the story of how it all happened for me.

Growing up in the Philippines in a family where the main motive is to work to put food on the table, sports is the lowest in our priority.  My parents did not spend time on sports nor even watched sports.  I remember one day, I came home a little late from playing basketball with neighborhood kids, my dad took my only basketball (that I shared with my 3 younger brothers), did not say a word, put gasoline on it and lit a fire, in front of the other kids.  My dad is a great dad and I don’t think he realized what he did to that 12 year old boy then but that image is stuck clearly in my mind.  That event ended any of my sports dreams then (if I had any to start with), and resorted to climbing mango, chico, guava, carmay, and star apple trees as my solo sport.  I was actually pretty good at it and probably explains why I love trees so much.  I did fell from a carmay tree once and a star apple tree once (almost left me paralyzed).  So that’s my past sports story.

Forward to 2012-13 living in Seahawks country and  amidst of all the Seahawks fever that was starting to rise towards their Superbowl stardom, I still considered myself as a “fair weather fan”.   I think part of it is probably because of my upbringing that sports as being low priority and probably anything that has to do with a bouncy rubbery thing brings “hot” flash backs.  I remember my older daughter made this comment to me “dad you’re not normal, you don’t watch football.”   I said in reply “I have better things to do”.    And yes I would rather do yard work or tinker with my bonsai trees than sit 2 hours of football.  The Seahawks however continued to win and the 12 man force field was too strong.  I was getting sucked in more and more.  It got to a point where I was following their score on my phone and even programmed AM 710 radio on my car to listen to games.  When the Seahawks went to the superbowl, it seemed like I  was the loudest fan rooting for them.  The following day, I lost my voice and could not talk for 3 days.  As I write this, I understand what’s happening to me.  The subdued 12 year old boy is finally coming out, watching the Seahawks play football has become an outlet for me to yell, jump for joy, sometimes get disappointed, but most of the time get pumped.  That feeling of winning got quite “addictive”.  Needless to say, I’m hooked and now 2 hours every week for 16 weeks or more during the football season I’m watching football.  That’s about 32 hours roughly.  That’s a lot of TV time.

This is where the bonsai part comes.  Football season is a Fall and Winter sport which coincidentally during this time there’s a good amount of bonsai work to be done.  Rewiring, pruning, cleaning (removal of old needles, cleaning the soil, etc.).  A lot of this work I can do indoor while watching TV.  I’ve resolved to “kill two birds with one stone” by working on my bonsai trees while watching football.  Yes, it seems crazy because you need concentration for both but the great thing is that I stay focused on my trees while the game is on in the background.  In football, they always replay anyway.  If there was a play that I missed while working on my tree, I stop and watch the replay.  I don’t drink beer when I watch football, I relax with my bonsai.  The feeling is amazing when my team wins and I finished rewiring or refining my bonsai.  Now I look forward to watching Seahawks football, but instead of pairing it with beer and chips, I do it with bonsai and wire.  Go HAWKS!!!

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Panderosa Pine before cleaning and rewiring it at the start of Seahawks vs Cardinals playoff game. This is a bad photo against a bright window but the silhouette shows a spindly wide tree.
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This is the tree after working on it. It took me the whole game to work on it plus another half hour on top with some breaks. I pulled the branches in to give it a more compact look.
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Close up of the tree before working on it, with Russell Wilson in the background.
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Seahawks game on while working on a Panderosa Pine. No time waste here.

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