Bonsai Cacti (2013)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (August 2013)

When I saw it sitting there, it seemed a kindred spirit. It was in a competition of sorts. Every competitor on the long table was unique. Tall and small, some were bloated green, some were slanted and gray. Others cascaded purple. There was even a dragon. Scars and wires were welcome; it was art.

Only their pots seemed to hold them collectively as a group. The pots were cool to the touch and had vivid colors. These pots were tall squares, circles and low, rectangular shapes of balance.

It sat in a pot like the others, but it didn’t seem to be following the rules. It did not slant, it did not cascade. It did not have a wire. It just sat there with a bold self-assurance, encircled by gravel and small granite stones.

To my eyes, it was a single entity. Yet, I did not really know if the one had become many or if the many had become one. They or it had a name, Copiapoa laui. The small green pot that held the Copiapoa laui was tucked into a small space between the cascading purple thing and, of course, the dragon.

I knew it had no chance to win. Still, I took the time to look, to really look at it closely. It was purple, green and gray. It sat in its pot, so self-assured, on granite stones speckled with bright crystals of quartz. It was art. It was different. It seemed a kindred spirit.

It was difficult for me to think of a cactus species that might fit into a meeting where bonsai would be the theme. Copiapoa laui came to my rescue. This unique species responds to injury by vivaciously producing new stems. It demonstrates in its small way an unconquerable love of life. In my opinion, that is the essence, the very inspiration of art.

Somewhere there is a competition where every competitor is unique. Stop there and look closely. You, too, may find a kindred spirit.