Sunday, May 4, 2008

Two in the bush

The Chinese honeysuckle had taken over the Northeast corner of my backyard. I'd left it mostly alone since moving in, rationalizing that surely the birds needed that brushy habitat to be happy. The vines hid blackberries that seemed to delight in sproinging out to get me on my legs, my arms, my hands and one especially lovely time near my eye. Yes, it was out of control.

But it smelled so good.

Then a few weeks ago I looked back into the wild corner, that from a few half-hearted reconnaissance missions I knew also hid a tangle of rusted fence, and saw that the noxious invasive had taken down a sapling, bending it down from the back to kiss the edge of the brush.

When I woke up this morning at 6:30 without an alarm, I knew that today I had to do something about it. I figured I'd grab my loppers and just get the worst of it down, to let the new tree stretch back up. Coffee first, of course.

It's really a perfect day today for yardwork--76ยบ now, and sunny, but with a light breeze. So I got to work. I've been such a slugabed all winter, and my stamina needs to catch up with my zeal. Already, though, I've noticed that my pants are too big, and I've had to resort to digging through my donate pile just to find something that wouldn't fall off of me. I'm OK with that.

There's something really meditative about snipping vines the size of large man's thumb. Despite the shade, I soon was covered in sweat, and wiping my face was serving to do little more than leave mud streaks. I didn't stop when I thought I would. Two and half hours later, I had cleared the entire 60 square foot area, but for the trunk of the sapling. My biggest concern, that I'd inadvertently disrupt an active bird's nest, didn't happen. There was a nest, but it was clearly not inhabited. That didn't stop me from noticing the alarm calls of every single towhee, cardinal, robin and wren. My greatest hope, that I'd find the bunnies and ruin their lair, didn't happen either. Ah well.

Now there's a two-foot high pile of sticks, vines, leaves and canes running along the entire back of the property line. My shoulders are sore already, and I smell of clean sweat. When I get up from my chair out here on the deck, I notice that I leave a damp spot from my back. The inside of my nose is coated from the billows of pollen that puffed with every snip, and I'm just now noticing the scratches on my forearms and ankles. The sweat is drying, and I feel good.

Soon I'll take my harvesting knife to a head of romaine and a head of butter crunch, pick some immature sugar snaps, root up a couple of tiny carrots, and pull the rest of the turnips for a salad. I have a thick NY strip that needs grilling.

Life is good.