Monday, January 30, 2012

Hacking Away at It

Five months since my last post.  As I reread what I wrote two days after my father's death I am struck by the faith I had, even in those dark hours.  My garden was barren, my soul and the earth were parched, and I was recovering from surgery - unable to even get outside.  Still, I was looking ahead - knowing that the herbs would flourish again, the rain would come and the dust on my blue boots would be replaced with fresh mud.  After enough years of riding the edge of life threatening waves and returning safely to shore, I guess I have really come to trust the process.

Here I am with new cedar boxes for our raised beds, full of sweet peas and swiss chard, onions and radishes, lemon grass and thyme, carrots and spinach.  There is a bounty of fresh food for our table and the rains have come - not quite enough, but it's a start.  After Chris built the new boxes we forged ahead into the wild and untamed "back 40" of our property.  We got the city to come and take down a huge, dead, overgrown hackberry tree that was a threat to the entire neighborhood.  One good wind could have taken out everyone's Internet and HD TV for a five mile radius, as our monstrosity was standing tall three feet from a transformer. 

Once that was underway, we got our friend Scott George from Austin Beautiful Trees to come in and tend to our abused children.  I read every parenting book I could get my hands on when I became a mother 23 years ago, but here we are the caretakers of 150 year old live oaks, a 70 year old mesquite, a gnarly cedar, lovely sycamore and two black walnuts - not to mention the pear tree we planted ourselves - and I have not a clue what they need.  They all had problems - as any child who is not getting enough attention (or the wrong kind) is bound to.  We've been known to get our little chainsaw and hack away at low hanging limbs, calling it pruning.  We water our plants, but tend to think that God takes care of the trees, even in the worst drought in decades.  I mulch and compost the vegetable garden, but leave the trees starved for nutrients, until they stop thriving like a newborn whose mother's milk is late coming in.

Okay, we're not that bad.  But that's where I go with it.  I am always the first in line for a guilt trip (laid on myself).  This little slice of earth that we are blessed to be temporarily squatting on is so precious to me that I long to turn it into the paradise I know it can be.  But that often takes time, money, expertise, knowledge and energy that I don't have. 

When the longing to do something gets more powerful than all the reasons why we can't, that's when we say - to hell with it - and invest real dollars and time into what needs to happen.  In this case, it was hiring Scott and his team and watching them swing through the oaks, trimming the dead wood and creating a torrential downpour of ball moss.  They also removed the old cedar we had been trying to save for years.  When we moved in it was home to a rambling tree house, but over the years it began to tilt, more and more and more until it was parallel to the ground.  Scott had propped it up several years ago, but it was time to surrender.  Out it came creating a clear path into our bamboo nightmare.

While they had the trailer, Chris and I looked at each other and said "let's go for it!"  We spent three hours working like maniacs hacking down the emerald forest - one more time.   I know, it will grow back, but we have absolutely NEVER seen our entire back yard in the 12 years we've lived here.  It was worth the effort and we are now inspired to figure out a containment system or get rid of it once and for all.  Our dream is to have Yard Crashers come and transform our newly cleared palette in three days time, creating an oasis of water features, outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fancy furniture.  Actually, I'd  be happy with no bamboo and more funky little self-created beds lined with the infinite rock that makes up 70% of our soil, perhaps a few more yard art Buddhas and a swing set for our new grandson, Brody.

The picture I am attaching to this post is what currently remains of the hackberry.  Austin Energy hacked away at it enough to make it safe and will return to bring it all the way down soon.  If something that huge can disappear from my world with just a few phone calls and the determination to take care of it, I ought to be able to tackle some things that stand in my own way.  Look out guilt, you're next!