vendredi 18 mars 2011

Taking a rain day, or March Misery

The Wood Pigeons in their Tulip Tree

After a long and difficult day on the couch, writing, organizing photos in my laptop, and preparing for Couch by Couch West (enjoy Neko Case and Liza Case), I decided it was time to go out and take relief in the garden, maybe sawing out the rest of the overgrown ivy climbing the garden wall up into the neighbors' neglected fig tree, or maybe raking the bottom garden lawn and burning some more stuff before the rain begin, for it will begin. I have learned in 9 springs in my garden that March is the dry month, making it the perfect month to do the garden clean-up and pruning and burn the cuttings.

Of course, if we are allowed to burn stuff in our gardens, it is because it is generally assumed that this is still the wet time at the end of the winter, so it is generally safe to burn stuff until May, when it begins to rain, and it gets dangerous, but it is supposed to be dry and warm by then, so --

Never mind.

The month -- and I am making an allowance for February 28 by counting it in the month of March for literary purposes -- began with a severe pruning of the two yews, my "sentinel" yews, at the top of the stairs down into the garden. Start, I figured, with what you see every time you leave the house, and that of what your husband complains most.

Ah. Peace and quiet, and thanks. Gratitude is lovely.

The next day, March came in like a lion's maw in my garden, and it's not over yet. No wind, but a whirlwind of pruning and burning. Almost every day, the burning pile reformed and then disappeared in a conflagration, smoke, flames, ashes and sparks jumping into the air. I have ruined one fleece top I have worn for skiing and everything else for 13 years, and one of my husband's favorite organic cotton, long-sleeved shirts I was wearing underneath. They have identical perfectly round holes in exactly the same place on the right upper arm. Now I know why it's important to make clothing anti-inflammable.

I attacked the whatever that tree is down by the gazebo. The one that looked like a Blow-pop pruned, the head of which was leaning over the Rose of Sharon along the bottom garden wall after the weight of snow it carried in December.

I was not sad to see it go.

That was followed in the same afternoon by the gigantic yew just below that had also been damaged by the heavy snow of December. Heavy for Moosesucks.

We were especially not sad to see it begin to disappear.

Aching and feeling my carpal tunnel making its return, hands sound asleep long after I awoke in the mornings, I went after the second terrace plants and shrubs -- the Vanhoutten Spirea that looked like Animal, the Fuchsia magellanica, lavender and the lush and abundant moss in the sparse grass. Slender branches. Easy prey.

There won't be many -- or even any -- sprays of tiny white flowers on the spirea, but that's the way it goes. I'll prune it in November this year.

Then what? Oh, in between the Vanhoutten Spirea and the last of the lavender and fuchsia, I cut down the several meter high trunks of what was supposed to be a Snowball Viburnum bush. Bushes are not several meters high in my book. I call those "trees". This one had lost it years ago, and all that grows now are suckers and these trunks.

This was the first step in destroying its stump and getting rid of it altogether as part of the clearing of the bank and these plants, as well as the hedge across from it, to make place for some sort of shelter for the motorcycles, the old wood boat behind the low cinder block walls, and garden shed. Dream on. I can't even seem to manage to finish the inside of the house.

I am hearing about that from my husband. Trust me. It isn't as easy as pruning down the sentinel yews.

Partially recovered, anyway, I attacked the next big horrible project -- clearing out the top of the high wall behind the barbecue on the gazebo terrace. The last time I did this was 2005. It was, if that is possible, worse then. But back then, it probably hadn't been done since the barbecue was built in 1991. This took two days, March 10 and March 16.

I am still recovering from the bug bites (fleas, I think) and the thorn pricks from the Firethorn shrubs, with their poisonous (for me) several centimeter long thorns on each and every unyielding branch. If Hell has hedges, they are certainly made of Firethorn shrubs.

Between the two skirmishes of the Battle of the Top of The Wall on the 10th and the 16th, I did something. I know I did. Let's see -- yes, I took a little vacation and hand pruned the Saint John's Wort down to the ground.

So, where did I start this? Yes, I got up off the couch to go out and continue, and what did I see, other than the pair of Wood Pigeons in their Tulip Tree? Rain. Rain falling in the fish-pond-in-the-old-fountain. Rain falling into the shocking pink and deep blue hyacinths.


I felt relief.

I have pruning elbow from all of this. I think I'll watch the quarter-finals at Indian Wells.
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