Sunday, May 15, 2005


"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
- John Muir

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon engaged in mortal combat with the ivy growing all over my backyard, which was just as well, because it rained much of today.

I have a nice patch of woods in my backyard - all I can see out my back window are trees and green - which is a rare luxury living in the City of Atlanta. However, the trees create shade - which is also nice living here in the hot and decadent dirty South - but that shade prevents me from maintaining a lawn, so much of the property has been taken over by english ivy.

Which is fine - I have no particular fondness for mowing. But the ivy is taking over some trees, even the large ones, and if it succeeeds in killing the trees, limbs and branches and eventually trunks will come falling down onto my house.

So I took a hand clipper and one set of pruning shears and started cutting the ivy off at the roots. Based on the look of things back there, I don't think the previous owners have done this in years - there were ivy stems one-inch thick that were growing roots into the bark of the trees. Taking it down took a lot of determination.

After about a half hour, I managed to liberate the first tree, and went on to the next. Slowly, I gained a full appreciation of just how many trees are actually growing back there. Each with its own particular ivy problems and unique Gordonian knot to be untangled.

I sweated, I grunted, I struggled and I poked myself with the clippers a bunch of times before I finally got too tired and hungry to continue. I learned not to grab and yank on a hanging vine until I had determined whether it was ivy or a thorn bush. I would say I got about half of the trees in the backyard done, or to put it another way, I cleared the ivy off of the trees in about a quarter of the property.

Ivy has its own unique smell, and my hands and clothes reaked of the odor. The mosquitoes found me about halfway through the chore and I donated serum to their reproductive process, or whatever they suck blood for. No sign of snakes, and believe me, I kept my eyes out for them as I waded through ankle-deep ivy.

But the work is done, at least in that patch of property, and I have the feeling of satisfaction that one gets after a hard day's work as I gaze out the back window at the now-bare trunks rising up out of the sea of ivy.

No comments: