Playing Catch-Up With Slow Time

Last updated on: Published by: Andrea 0

This house does not have “history” in that deep-time, thick sense that a house hundreds of years old has. It doesn’t ooze history out of its walls and have hidden nooks and crannies with generations of stories. What this house does have, though, is a history that we know, comparatively, well. We are the 4th owners of the home. The home was built and landscaped by an arborist, who placed all of the plant life that we fell in love with. It was then bought by a couple that put in and stocked the shop. When half of that couple passed away, the shop was closed and (I think) rarely opened, and the maintenance of the house fell by the wayside. Then the gentleman we bought it from bought the house, with every intention, I think, of caring for the property, but age and medical problems intervened.

There are a lot of reasons, but the end result is that some parts of this property hasn’t been cared for, in some ways at all, in 5-10 years. Since it was built 34 years ago, that’s a pretty significant chunk of its life. So we’re playing catch-up with the very real impact of the slow march of time.

In some places, taking care of the problem is comparatively easy — trimming a few trees, taking out brush and undergrowth, repairing the stretched wire on a fence that is coming apart. The bigger challenge is in seeing, deciding on, and then accepting that there are some places where the damage has simply been done. It may have started as something that was supposed to be helpful. In fact, in most places, the damage started as something very positive — a piece of wire to prop up a brand-new sapling, plastic put down to keep the weeds at bay just long enough for things to get established, a watering system put in with the intention of keeping the ground alive. Like many things in life, every intention was positive, and for a while, it really was helpful.

Frayed Support
The challenge comes when emergence begins to take over. What was intended to be helpful is not constantly re-evaluated and adjusted to match current needs. What was supposed to make things easier gets worn at the edges and the plan is to dedicate time and energy to fixing it tomorrow. Something breaks, and fixing the immediate problem takes precedence over deciding if the break is an indicator of a larger problem. No matter what the reason, sometimes what worked wonderfully for a while becomes a hindrance.

For many of our trees, that emergence soon became a hindrance, which then became a scar, and is now well on its way to being healed over. For injuries that are not attended to eventually become a part of our fabric. So, for many of our trees, the steel cables and plastic hose that once propped them up and helped them grow now hang out of trunks, helpless but caught in the wood. We could try and exorcise the rough metal from the wood, but the two have become so intertwined that doing so could involve sacrificing a large part of the tree itself. We leave the cables there rather than cutting them to the quick — it may mean that the tree has more to grow in and around, but it also provides a reminder that, should that tree require deep pruning or cutting in that area, that there is more than simple wood hidden under the bark.

So instead, like the tree slowly enveloping the steel cable, it’s a process of acceptance. The tree is beautiful not only for the fruit and shade and life it provides, but the proof that no matter what the scars we may all carry and no matter how long we wait to address them, we can still be ourselves — just with a few frayed steel cables sticking out at odd angles, reminding us to tend the structures we create and never be afraid to adjust what was once necessary to prop us up.

Spring’s Creative Destruction

Last updated on: Published by: Andrea 0

Cherry Blossom
When we moved in to this house last year, it was at the very tail end of fruit season, and we knew there was a lot of work to be done. Now that winter is pretty solidly shaken off, we’re getting the chance to really dig in and see what’s going on.

The grape vine had grown up into, and then pulled down, a 14 foot arborvitae along our back fence.

The grape vine had grown up into, and then pulled down, a 14 foot arborvitae along our back fence.

And what we’ve found is – a lot more than we expected. There are a couple of groves of chokecherries that have grown up and around behind the shop and garage. Cherry tree saplings have popped up just about everywhere, many of them in and around fences, other trees, and buildings. We’ve been doing a lot of cutting down, clearing out, and trimming back. It’s a lot of destruction during a season of what would usually be bursting at the seams with growth.

At the same time, it’s all creative destruction. In addressing the huge overgrowth of honeysuckle and chokecherries, we discovered a grape vine that is much, much, much older and larger than we first thought. In plowing up the vegetable garden bed, we discovered a raspberry patch that’s thriving, healthy, and spreading like crazy. A single puff-tail rabbit seems to want to call our yard home, and we’ve planted extra leaf lettuce near where we see him in an effort to keep him away from the rest of the vegetables.

The quince bush that appeared thorny and dead is now covered in blooms that have attracted droves of hummingbirds. There are even about 150 snap pea plants poking up out of the soil; we expected the old seeds to germinate at a much lower rate, but this just means we’ll have plenty of peas.

RhubarbAnd, like a promise of that soon-to-be summer, the rhubarb is showing dark, curly green leaves and bright red stalks. The stringy, fruity vegetable is incredible to dip directly into a cup of sugar. Sitting on the porch while the setting sun shafts through the trees, reading a familiar book and relaxing with friends, makes all the work worth it. The acid from the rhubarb tastes sharp, bright, almost overwhelming on my tongue… just like the beautiful, creative destruction of spring.