Welcome to the Jungle

It’s amazing how soon nature can reclaim a space, no matter how small or protected. Case in point is our small side yard. It’s outside of the pool fence, and as such it’s outside of my mind, which means it’s had a few years of uninterrupted growth, fallen leaves, and foraging birds and rodents to spread nasty seeds. When I looked out my window and saw a wall of green, I knew it was well past the time for action. We were seriously heading quickly into ‘Grey Gardens’ territory, and though I had the wardrobe and the eccentricities, I was not quite ready to throw in the house and surrounding landscape.

Doused in deet, clothed in long sleeves with pants tucked into my socks, and armed with rubber-coated gloves and pruning shears, I began hacking away at the wilderness. This was awful work. When a mixture of sweat and insect-repellent wasn’t pouring into my eyes, swarms of unaffected insects dove into my ears. Pesky bittersweet vines and Virginia creeper had overtaken much of the open space, while saplings of maple and oak had swelled into trees too big for one man to pull out with his own hands. Thorny things were hidden here too, ready to scrape and scratch and tear away at any exposed skin – and near the back of the property was a thorn-addled vine that was and remains the worst monster I’d ever encountered. There were thorns even on the tips and undersides of its leaves. Not many plants inspire fear in me – I find even the carnivorous ones rather charming – but this thorny terror was another story. I could easily see a nightmare inspired by such a devilish creature.

It took me three full days, thirty-seven large lawn bags, countless callouses, two cans of bug spray and two changes of clothing a day to wrangle the wilderness, but it is now done. I’ve got the war-wounds to prove it.

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