We live in South Carolina. Thus, we live in what amounts to a tropical rain forest. Starting about April and ending about, say, November, you can almost hear the trees, bushes, brambles and vines growing. The many layers of green can be overwhelming. Trails we cut in the winter, fields we mow down, erupt as soon as the weather is right; verdant invaders who overtake all. I have fought the battle of the weeds; and recently, I have surrendered. We had a huge DR brand brush cutter. It was great at cutting thick stuff until it ran into Mountain Laurel. The bushes simply forced the great 17 HP machine to climb the front and try to run vertically.
We have been through an assortment of weed-trimmers and lawn-mowers, most of which appear to be in league with the lawns and weeds, given their tendency to early obsolescence within one season of battle.
Our porch and utility building are the resting place of all too many devices. The electric ones are anemic and raised the white flag early after their first uses. (Even small weeds and grass scoffed.) The gas powered devices are systematically destroyed by ethanol in the gasoline, which dissolves the plastic fuel lines and priming pumps. I have used some herbicide, but from what I can see it’s more like a vitamin cocktail for my green attackers. I suspect that for our needs, a plane-full of Agent Orange might come close. But I wouldn’t count on it.
We have chain-sawed and machete’d and axed our way through many trees and larger bushes. I had a beautiful European brush scythe (bought by my wife as a Christmas gift), which the weeds found laughable and ultimately broke in two pieces.
This yearly war with nature is something that those in more urban settings may not get. I’m speaking of those who love the manicured beauty of their local parks, or the well-maintained paths of national forests and mountain-biking trails. Those things, my dear reader, are false advertising. They’re ‘nature porn.’ Because nature is ‘in it to win it.’ And so far, may be winning despite our national obsession with the belief that humanity is destroying the environment. Sure, we can harm the natural world with oil spills and air pollution, with deforestation and other grave errors. And we should be good stewards. But nature is still, well, nature. And often as not, Mother nature laughs at us dismissively.
Around our place, she wins all the time. I now have a hayfield where a yard used to stand. Why have I ceded the yard, you may ask? Because nature has stinging insects on her side. After a long summer of assorted attacks, with resulting pain, itching and swelling, I admit it. The bugs can have the yard until the first freeze. We have been stung by wasps in our bed, wasps on our carpet, wasps on the porch and in the utility building. My son was stung mowing. So the last assault, when his mother was mowing and sustained seven yellow-jacket stings at once, well that was it. ‘I give,’ I told my swollen, itchy bride. ‘They can have it until it gets cold.’ I sounded retreat and never looked back. Quitters may never win, but they do avoid painful stings and potential allergic reactions.
The weeds and wasps are an annual reminder that nature has a way. Whether by freezing or melting, by stinging or biting, by erosion or earthquake, by lightning, flood or hurricane, she will have her way. It’s a charming human affectation, the belief that we can ultimately deal her a serious body-blow. Nature may fall down, but she’ll be right back up in no time, erasing careless humans from the surface of the world they thought they ruled.
So don’t judge me please. I’m biding my time. I’ll take the yard back, I really will; even if it means a grass-fire. But I’m not ashamed to say that for now, the Green Flag of nature waves in victory, fluttering in the breeze around my house.
But once that flying, stinging, irascible security detail is dying or sleeping off the winter, I’ll be back. And then we’ll see who’s more evolved!
Until October of course; we have an understanding.