This Morning, I woke to find the sun was not shining, the wind was blowing cool air around in my yard, and that the birds were hiding away in their nests. Though it is Earth Day, the Earth seemed to be saying, “Stay inside and clean the house, you don’t want to be out here.” My only reply to this great mother had to be, “No way Mama, what better day to tame you than a day that you are sleepy!”
I approach my moments with nature from the perspective of a person who gets a sunburn if she is just thinking about going outside for a few minutes. There is nothing like the vengeful sun to remind you that you are wrapped in a fragile outer layer of flesh. The days that the sun is hidden behind clouds are the best days for me to go outside and play. Yes, I know that cloudy days are just as bad as sunny days, but it feels less like a burn and more like a gentle breeze tousling your hair.
Today, in honor of earth day, I gave my section a haircut.
That is to say: today I chose to mow the lawn.
There is nothing like spending an hour or two in the yard on the back of a riding mower that is less like a great steed and more like a little Welsh Pony. She does not gallop like a stallion, but meanders like a slow ride through the country-side in a hay cart. What better way to get back to nature than re-learning the contours of your yard, remembering where all the holes are, where all the tree roots jut up through the grass just high enough to make your mowing experience a little bit more interactive. It is not passive, no, absolutely not. You must be aware, bright and present, it is a war. Well it’s a war in my back yard at least, there are battles on every front, and the weaponry is astounding, nature has an array of defenses, from missiles to land mines, and she will use them when you are least expecting.
As I tame the grass and especially the bamboo (or cane for those who are botanists) that dominate the two acres that I call a homestead, I am reminded of the aforementioned weapons regularly. First line of defense in the wilderness on the limitless fields of lawn are the Sweet Gum Balls that litter every square foot of the yard. They are nasty little bombs that lay in wait for unsuspecting feet, and mower blades. They resemble the land mine from the game “Mine Sweeper” only they are brown and spiky instead of gray and spiky and when hit by a mower blade they shoot out of the hatch on the side of the mower at top speed. Anyone standing near would be well advised to get the hell out of the way, lest they lose an eye or be impaled.
Nature’s troops are cunning too, I fight yearly against the onslaught of bamboo, which propagates at alien like speed growing a foot per day in some cases. It pokes its reddish brown head above the soil exactly the girth that it will be as an adult, and will grow ten feet in a week if you don’t knock it down in it’s youth. Then there are the ranks of ivy and vine that will choke out beautiful trees, and flowers if given the opportunity. I live in the south where there is Kudzu vine everywhere, then poison ivy underneath that just waiting for the unsuspected gardener to grab hold and pull.
But here in S.E. North Carolina I have a worse enemy than Kudzu, I have Wild Muscadine Grapes. They are an ancient breed of grapes, and it is obvious how they have survived over the years, they are invasive and nasty, they don’t even taste good. They have even taken to climbing the bamboo, one invasive species conquering another!
Alas, I took my time and enjoyed my moment in nature for the day. I will live to fight another battle next week when the limitless fields call me again to say they propose a game of chess, it’s my move but I can never get her king in check.
At least, not until Fall!