Friday, June 17, 2011

Taming the Wilderness

I'd love to say that the topic of this post was about how I'd fulfilled the lifelong dream of hiking the rigorous West Coast Trail or even managing to tackle the more local Grouse Grind stairmaster to heaven.  Alas, you all know me and know I'm ecstatically happy to simply manage to make it from one room to the other in my house without injury.

So no, taming the wilderness is not quite the herculean task one would think.  Really, it's trying to get my overgrown yard under control.  (Yes, I know you really guessed that but I really wanted to learn how to do links on this blog thingy so figured I'd do a little Tourism BC promotion too.)

I love the idea of gardening.  I even like gardening for the most part.  In Canada when I lived in apartments, I was limited to container gardening, but considering my schedule there (and lack of attention to details like water and nutrients), it was a realistic goal.  And I did really well - I was pretty much set for decades with the bounty of oregano, thyme, sage, mint, and lemon balm.  Not to mention the few tomatoes and strawberries that managed to live through the rainy Spring/Summer in the Lower Mainland.

Here in the U.S., gardening is shared between a group of us.  There's the people who come to mow and edge the lawn.  (The decision to sell the lawnmower in a garage sale two years ago is one neither of us has ever regretted...and likely never will.)  Then there's the DH, Mr. Eggshells, who is proficient at the stuff way up high where I can't reach and for which I'm reminded that I'm not allowed to get on a ladder (spoilsport!).   He's the great conceptualizer and helps me get through the logistic from what I want to do through to actually being able to do it.   He's also chief weed killer, for reasons that are patently obvious to anyone who's ever met me and my propensity for accidents.  And then there's me, who heads outside with a plan of exactly what I want to do and how much I want to accomplish.  For better or worse, I have a...let's be kind shall we, and say "extremely optimistic" view of my capability and stamina.  

But I start with the resolve:  this time, I'm sure I'll get everything I've planned, done.  I will be SUPERWOMAN!  *cue super-heroine theme music*  All the chopped greenery will be deposited into the compost/garbage, all my tools put away and the yard looking awesome as a tribute to my tenacity and ruthless determination.  

I'm midway through a project of clearing ivy from our back fence.  It's growing completely up the trunk of  the 30? year old sumac tree and has worked its way over to the adjacent fence.  The fence is staggered slats and has lattice at the top.  The ivy has entwined around all of it in an orgy of fantastic green, threading its weedy way through in a pattern rivaled only by little old ladies at the dollar store at Christmas (don't kid yourself, they are worse than freaking ninjas!).  

There is also a separate growth of ivy in the back corner of the yard, an area populated by a very large (overgrown) tree-style bush.  The ivy actually waterfalls down with the bush leaves and flowers, and really, now that I think about it, I don't know if the bush/tree even has a trunk anymore.  It might just be an ivy-gnome in there holding it up.  This batch of ivy also has wrapped around the fence, and is slowly overtaking the alley easement and the neighbor's shed.  It has bitten a couple of the fence boards in half with its jagged, nasty teeth.  The only reason it hasn't eaten the community garbage can there is that the guy from the City empties it weekly and moves it closer to our gate each time in his haste to leave the area.  (Really, it's like a game now, to see how many weeks it takes him to completely cut off our access to the alley.  I also watch paint dry and mold grow on cheese for fun.)

So with my mighty bolt cutter style clipping shears, I attack the overgrowth with a ferocity of a rabid moose on PCP.  

DIE IVY!!!!  I will rip you to shreds with my bare hands, stomp on you and crush you beneath the iron heel of my...erm flip flop.   

That was my first mistake.  

First, when it comes to walking, I'm not a particularly stable person (look at that wide open opportunity there!).  While flip flops are super comfortable, they're not exactly the best for support for my body.  But I can ignore the little twinges in my back and feet that come with balancing on the uneven dirt and detritus.  What I didn't count on was the ivy's ability to become super monster ivy and suck my shoes and their corresponding feet in the the gaping maw of their vicious green mouths.  In the space of mere moments, it wound its way over and through my shoes and ate my feet whole.  Fortunately for me and unfortunately for it, I was working on that patch and managed to cut myself away from it.  

Then the second mistake.

Because I'm working this project in stages, I've given away my battle plan.  The ivy decided to fight back.  

It has silently watched my attacks of its brethren...cut the roots so the tendrils die on the vine and are easily pulled off the wooden fence.  It saw its comrades falling by the meter-lengths and has spent the last week or so mustering its defenses.  Once I'd finished cutting the next batch of roots, I started to pull the dying ivy strands from the fence.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Except...

Viciously and with malice aforethought, the ivy started belching huge plumes of ivy gas directly into my nose and mouth.  Little bits of dying ivy suicide bombers spewed like African killer bees from a cave and launched themselves into my eyes.  Blind, gasping for breath, I dropped the ivy pieces and tried desperately to move my feet which had been re-mummified in the ground ivy.  
Have I mentioned that at the time I moved to the U.S. I had already been diagnosed with allergies to every kind of environmental flora they test?  And that moving even just a few hours south meant that I spent my first few years here chronically inflamed from all the "new" environmental triggers?

I did manage to spend 45 minutes working on the yard, which is a happy, no doubt about it.  Of course it's not hard to be happy when you're all looped up on painkillers and Benedryl.  

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