Tag Archives: nature writing

Reddy Branch-connecting the dots

Because, as I survey all that I command, all I see is a carpet of rose and other invasives. I made more progress on Friday afternoon, connecting the dots of my clearings. Dots. White in a sea of black. Black in a sea of white? Hope in a sea of hopelessness? I am keeping a close eye on the spot in front of the maple. If the forest floor succumbs to quickly, I may as well.  Its only been a week since my last photo so there is no significant change. I just like the big maple tree. Old trees impart a wisdom not found in human words or actions. Our foolishness is only compounded the more of these old souls we destroy.

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Here are the after effects of the next stop up on the ridge, behind the hollies you see uphill from the maple. My son and I did this work.

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This is a photo from my previous post showing the before:

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Despite the 90 degree heat, I choose to come out to the site. Being a Friday afternoon, I needed some time before the tasks of home presented themselves. I moved up the ridge, to the next area, behind the fallen tree in the background of the above photo. Friday’s work was particularly difficult as everything was so small. There were no huge vines to cut and pull. It wasn’t large rose where you can pull back, step, and then swing. No, this was on your knees, bending at you waist, small work. In the 90 degree heat, wearing long sleeves and jeans because of the ticks. I was mad as hell by the end. I’ve drafted a post about all the vituperation running through my mind. Maybe I’ll post it. It didn’t help that I had eaten my breakfast reading about the Antarctic sea ice collapsing and scientists wondering if the United States Congress will need scuba gear by the end of the 21st century in order to continue with their sound and fury that signifies nothing. Not really, but, what the hell! See, I’m mad. But I’ll save it for another post. I’ll stick to the facts here.

So, below, is the before of Friday’s work. Notice the bittersweet climbing to the sun. The large vines you see are native grape. There is holly and other native shrubs in the background. It’s all the vegetation in the foreground that shouldn’t be there. IMG_20170519_160159674IMG_20170519_160144666

And here is the after. As I organized the photos to prepare for this post, I realized that I had not taken shots from the same angle and that my finger is in one of the shots I did take. I’m going to blame the heat. In the following photograph, you can see that I pulled all of the bittersweet from in front of this log.

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This next photograph is taken looking down hill. I’ve cleared the honeysuckle, ivy, a few rose bushes, several privet bushes, and the bittersweet. There was quite a bit here that I wasn’t sure about. I think there are young trees in here. I’ll be back with my identification book. I want to get to the left of that downed tree and start clearing some of the larger rose bushes. Ten feet behind me is the ridge clearing. So, I’ve, more or less, connected the dots. I finished my time here by pulling out another dozen rose bushes that had been simply cut down last winter. There are few left where we had focused so much effort. I need to clear up by the trail where it takes the sharp right. That will be the next day’s work.

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I found this little gem in the ridge clearing, under a oak sapling. A rather pathetic May Apple specimen. But, it’s something. I don’t know enough about how these plant propagate and what it means for soil chemistry, but I know that it’s a good thing to see a native plant where there was once nearly 100 percent ivy and honeysuckle cover. And, look at all the dead rose and ivy under and around it! And that is a small oak sapling to the left, getting sunlight because there are no non-natives bushes on top of it.  I’m still mad. And I’m going back. What else can I do?

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Not succumbing-Reddy Branch

I went to the woods today for the same reason I often do. To clear my mind, to be alone, to be free, for a moment or two, from the politics of work and the need to be something for others. My son did not join me today, and for today at least, I was thankful. For today I needed to be alone as I had just made a work related decision that had me choose pragmatism over idealism. It was a difficult decision and one that does not sit well. As these blogs are about the woods, I will not pollute them by bringing up this compromise that will likely send me there even more.

Today, the woods presented, at first, little solace. Lush with new growth of bittersweet, ivy, honeysuckle, and rose, my work from two weeks ago seemed to be for naught. More tilting at windmills and, today, I did not have my Sancho at my side.

Below is the picture I took on April 17, ten days ago, after clearing this patch which is in front of the big maple and the line of hollies. Hopefully you see how the right is cleared and the left is still cluttered with invasives.

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The photo below  is what greeted me today, April 27. Lush and full. There was some difference between the right and left. I have to admit that I stood for a minute, surveying the scene, asking myself what I was hoping to accomplish. Acres of rose and other invasives greeted my gaze. But, how could I quit? Walk away? I had started this mad quest-if I quit now, it will all be in vain. At least here, I could lay better claim to be the master of my fate and the captain of my soul

I lost myself for an hour clearing this spot, again. What is possessing me to do this work? How am I ever going to get these woods to where they need to be, I have no idea. This ground possesses me now. I am too stubborn to give up. So, I worked. First, I pulled all the bittersweet-little vines of little more than a foot or two in length. Hundreds of little honeysuckle shoots, already climbing up the saplings, each other, and anything else that is vertical. Pure grip. No Pulaskis, no loppers. Just pulling. My fingers are raw and swollen now as I type. Next, the rose. Little more than stumps and scraggly bushes, I finish what I had started last time-digging with the Pulaski. I checked several times. I hope that I got them all.

Before:

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After:

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After:

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I know I am not done. But two the photos that follow are my hope that this work is not in vain. There are other saplings. I am working to identify them. I do think that they are blackhaw and ash.

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If I am correct, this is a young dogwood; there is a larger specimen nearby and several smaller ones of this size. With most of the ivy pulled (you can see some on the left) and most of the honeysuckle (you can see some next to the ivy in the upper right corner) this sapling may just have a chance.

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And this is an oak sapling. I believe this is a black oak.

After this work, knowing I would not yet be missed at home, I walked up to the ridge to check on its progress and to tear out two privet bushes I had previously left for another day.

I found this beautiful little sassafras tree growing right next to the privet. Now it has some more room.

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I finished my work tired and with aching hands, ready for dinner and an evening with my books. I had forgotten about my day and its demands. These woods ask nothing of me and, for that, I return to give more. There are no politics here.