Monday, September 05, 2005

Weedwhacking again.

While I was up north green things grew tall around my house. Not exactly grass.

So I spent five hours weed-whacking yesterday. I got a good look at everything as I slashed: grasshoppers lunging desperately every which way to escape their Armaggedon; butterflies feeding on the pretty purple flowers of the very burr-plants I'm about to mow down. Once I even weed-whacked a copperhead snake (causing it to move along very swiftly). I accidentally slay many, many passion-flower vines.

Back before I put up my deer-fence, there were no passion-flowers to be seen around my place. This native vine with lovely three-lobed leaves and preposterously beautiful and extravagant purple flowers and then egg-like parchment seed pods is adored by deer and eaten down to the roots.

One year, while weedwhacking, I found one precious surviving vine; I dug it up and put it in a pot on the back porch. That evening a deer came up the stairs and pulled the vine out of the pot and ate it. That was the last straw - I put up a deer-fence. Since then, there have been more and more passionflowers every season, along with other native plants, like Queen Anne's Lace and Blackeyed Susans, which had been extinguished by the ravenous ungulates.

I was mulling our ability to ignore or deny our vulnerability. We feel invincible until we get sick, then we're surprised and indignant. We feel safe until something unexpected happens. "Well really, how could you have expected us to anticipate both a hurricane AND a flood?"

I was visiting Melina in New York City while the horrors in the gulf states were unfolding. Primal fear: how could such a metropolis be evacuated?

We all complacently rely on many things which, actually, hang on a thread. Electricity. Water. Peaceful co-existence with our neighbors. When disaster strikes and the grocery stores have been looted and the last can of artichokes has been grabbed off the shelves - how many of us will know what to do next and have the wherewithal to do it?

My dad's farming family was poor, but they were pretty self sufficient. They had a wood stove for hard times, they drew their water from a spring near their house; they grew and canned their own fruits and vegetables and kept chickens; my grandfather and all his sons knew how to fix things, almost as well as Cubans do today - and the things they relied on were mechanical, not electronic, so they COULD be fixed! They had a clothes wringer and made their own soap.

In contrast, I am surrounded with things which must be thrown away when they stop working. I live too far away from the people I love to be with them if there is no gasoline. And everything at my house pretty much shuts down when Duke Power hits a snag.

How about you?

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At 8:19 AM, Blogger kenju said...

Did you know that your flowering vine is a passionflower?

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Erin said...

so true... we're all at the mercy of this wonderful thing called technology - not tht I want to return to washboards or wells, but we were certainly more self-sufficient when those things were a way of life.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Laurie said...

It's funny - we have a woodstove but we have rarely lost power on our street, even when trees were down around us and others were without power for days. So I have never used it out of necessity, but I am oh so glad it is there now.


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