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Ikebana without Kenzan: Surprising Things Happen


In happier days...

I live in Bend, Oregon, perhaps one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It sits at the base of towering Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters and is surrounded by luxuriant Ponderosa pines on one side and husky Juniper forests on the other. The Deschutes River is effervescent and ubiquitous. Endless vistas abound.





Yet today, I look into my back garden and see only a cloud of dense, gray smoke. The whole state is on fire. Although my neighborhood is in no danger, nearby homes and fences seem to dissolve into a thick and ominous shroud. The smell of char seeps inside through crevices alongside windows and doors.


Friends, it's difficult to stay positive and muse about ikebana after a week like this one. Countless people have lost everything, even, in too many cases, their very lives. Acres and acres of life-giving flora and fauna are ash.

I will try, though, because it matters. It matters to lift ourselves up. It matters to try and lift up our kids and loved ones. My new mantra is simply (especially after a night of lying awake making a long list of all the terrible things that have happened over the last six months or might happen during the next), “Good things can happen too.”


In this spirit, I will tell you about a handwritten note I found on my car a few weeks ago that inspired the subject of this post. It said, “If you see three brown cows, please give me a call....” Cows? Wildly unlikely. I live in suburbia. But, how surprising and welcome such a sight would be! A trio of amiable bovines, lumbering along our neighborhood corridor! For days afterwards, I delighted at the thought and improbable reverie of leading them safely home.


Ikebana without a kenzan has the tang of something just so random, so peculiar, so surprising.

In my next post, I'll show you some tools and techniques for arrangements like the ones shown here -- all without kenzan. Surprising and, yes, good things can happen.




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