{Taming} the woods, or how the woods tamed me


The woods’ push is relentless.

I think this every year when the long list of spring chores unfurls and we’re finally outside for more than one day at a time.

As I sit here writing on this 5th day of May, it’s snowing “hoppy copters” (as named by three year old Clay) and a myriad of other blossoms and seeds from the three acres of trees surrounding our house. I’m covered in them. And let me explain, I’m sitting here only because I nearly killed myself amending, tilling, and covering our vegetable garden beds on this fine but very warm Monday. I need a piece of shade and a tall glass of iced tea.

Back to the subject at hand…

In these parts, Mother Nature is not a demure, fragile, or easily frightened gal. Every space in these woods that we’ve attempted to tame, whether it’s flower beds, grassy lawns, or vegetable gardens, is steadily reclaimed inch by inch, weed by weed, honeysuckle vine by honeysuckle vine, every hour of every day in these warmer months.

In about ten days, I will be pulling up one thousand tiny maple trees. Count on it.

I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not.

We love the woods and that’s why we live here. I’m simply amazed at the quick pace that nature assumes to move right past the cultivation and take over. It’s truly fascinating to observe and sometimes, exhausting.

There’s things I like, even love.  I love the forward march of the wild blackberries that provides plump fruit for tart cobblers and sweet wine. The creeping Virginia, not so much. (Though I must admit, hers is the first foliage to turn in September and that red in the woods is so pretty. So I take that back). I guess even the blasted honeysuckle is redeemed by those two weeks of intoxicating fragrance. See what’s happening here? I’m talking myself out of being mad at any of them.  Poo.

I guess we’ll just have to learn to get along.  I’ll gladly trade (she said through clinched teeth) all that weed pulling, chopping, and mowing for the bird songs, frog croaks, and refreshing shade that these woods provide.

Wow.  That was a fruitful self-therapy session.  I feel so much better.

As an aside: Is it just me or are there SO MANY more snakes around this year? Yikes. I generally see one, maybe two snakes all summer long but this spring, I’ve already made quota for this year and next.

You may have seen my Instagram of the young robin that Eric saved from a mean ol’ corn snake yesterday, and today, another slithered RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME as I trimmed the barberry bushes.

Snakes and I usually have this agreement:

1.  I promise to make lots of noise when I head out to the garden so you know I’m coming. This may or may not include singing.

2.  I promise to NOT chop off your head with my hoe if you stay OUT OF SIGHT. It’s kinda like being a two year old before object permanence…you can be around but don’t let me see you. Ever. That way I can talk myself into the notion that there are no snakes in my garden.

Deal? Deal.

This year, given the number of new critters, I may have to make a sign. Do snakes prefer printing or cursive?

And what do you call those things flying off the maple trees? As kids on Haven Drive, we always called them maple squirts. When our kids were little, we called them helicopters, thus Clay’s translation. What do you call them?

Better get back to work in the woods.

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