In a series of posts, I waffled on about the ramifications / consequences of entering bonsai shows and competitions (you can check out what I said here and here).
Having thick skin always helps, having a sense of humour is good, too. But understanding where our little hobby sits in the grand scheme of life, death and the cosmos is probably even better still. (If that was too subtle for you, then get a load of this: it's just a frickin' hobby, OK? It's not the end of the world if judges don't give you any prizes or if nobody likes your trees. You like them, that should be good enough. There.)
I wasn't actually there when this happened, although it did involve my trees. The story was recounted to me by fellow members of the Satsuki Azalea Society, during our display in 2007. I had left the stand to go off for a coffee and a satsuki enthusiast was viewing the display with his friends while providing them with some commentary on the finer points of the species. They get to this Gyoten and he tells them, "This one is beautiful."
They go along the exhibition bench, see this one (another Gyoten - but I still want to believe it's a Kaho) and he says, "This one's lovely."
Further along is the ballerina (Kaho-no-Hikari I think; anyone recognise this pic?) and he says, "That one's good too."
And when he gets to this one, he tells his companions: "And that one's just shite."
Had I been there as the situation unfolded, or if he had said it to my face point-blank, perhaps I wouldn't have been as amused as I am now.
Still, I acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and setting out one's trees on display does make one a target / recipient for said opinions. I myself have been as forceful - and more tactless - in the expression of my views (as many regular readers will know by now).
But life's too short to take everything to heart. My take is, if you can't take the heat then flippin' stay out of the kitchen.
We will be back at the Satsuki show next weekend (I don't get a lot of free weekends in June, really) and these trees will not be shown this year as they haven't been as heavily in flower as in 2007. Part of the beauty of bonsai is the temporalness of a tree's perfection - enjoying a moment in time and never knowing when and if it will revisit you with as much bounty as previously.