Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Reclaiming the old, the discarded. It has been the theme of this week it would seem. All seeming to coalesce two days ago, but only this morning is really sinking in.
Two days ago, coming across a little old tree that had been uprooted to make way for better curb appeal, I seized upon the idea of saving it. Fortunately it was being offered for nothing, fit in the car — sort of — and seemed like it might survive the relocation. Far from a conscious decision, it was one of pure instinct. This was the method employed by my teacher of tea. He always acted from the place of intuition, of instinct; always without hesitation. Some call this acting on impulse and disparage. It is also a principle feature of Zen training, and Cha Dao as taught by Master Ho. In this method, thinking is — at best — a secondary, remedial strategy.
I know very little about arbology, save having worked for a summer at a plant nursery. I simply felt that it could work, that this tree could be saved, but that this must happen now — or not at all. I personally believe in the interconnectedness of all things and occasionally act accordingly. Some rather cheeky teachers of spirituality, of Yoga, will question why one would develop clairvoyance when we have television; action at a distance when we have cell phones. I then suggest questioning why anyone would attend their class (and pay money) when there are books, the internet. This is perhaps neither here nor there, but, when a series of coincidences pile up at your door in short succession, it tends to make us feel they are not mere coincidence.
Immediately upon birthing the tree into the ground, watering, and arranging a few large stones as a proto-zen garden, the door bell rang. It was kettle from Japan, in the hands of the delivery person. This was a vintage kettle found online weeks before that seemed under appreciated and in need of a new home. It was about a hundred or so in age, but held water and the handle was stiffly in place. Clearly the kettle had sat for decades, the spout was half rusted shut and needed to be cleared with a stick. Along with the bits of rust came a partially burnt wood shaving which had been blocking the pour. Clearing this was the first step in reviving it.
The water from this kettle came out reddish and sour at first, though I could hear from the sound of the iron expanding that it was of a good quality material. The first pot of tea made with it was rather dreadful, both energetically and taste-wise. Fortunately I don’t give up easily, and after boiling that same tea in the kettle for an hour, could smell the iron was freshened and the water now brewed out sweet.
Looking at it now, as it calls to me to return to making tea, I find it quite different in aspect. The kettle is alive once more — woken up. My hope is that the fate of the pine tree proves the same. We find this with tea pots, teas, and all manner of things. In one set of hands the spirit of the thing is dormant, unwilling to show itself, while in another set of hands they will perform beautifully — like a temperamental actor. This sense of spiritedness I can relate to and so tend to respect in others as well.