Tuesday, May 01, 2012

We discovered a tree in our yard the other day.

We discovered a tree in our yard the other day.

 First – a disclaimer. The shrubbery along the southern border of our homestead – aka the Demilitarized Zone – is 90% the creation of one of the previous owners. When we took it over it was a tangle of unidentified bushes and trees living in a pocket of deep shade caused by an American elm and an adjacent oak at its north end. On the south side was a two-trunked pine tree, which was slightly taller than my 6 and ? feet at the time of our purchase but grew to 10 time that height by this annum. Until now I had removed but one tree – another pine that grew in the middle of the area whose branches were crowding out it neighbors – and added some hosta and groundcover where the pre-existing flora allowed. Then, in the past twelve months, a combination of disease, unusual storms, and a request from my north side neighbor caused us to do some major, shade-reducing changes.

Three years ago the elm developed Dutch elm disease and had to be euthanized. Then a tornado – yes in Wethersfield – and a late October snowstorm that occurred when the leaves still were up took down two of the oak’s three upper trunks. The remaining one hung menacingly out over the street. At our request the town of Wethersfield, on whose property the tree actually resided (it’s a long story), took it down. Then, inspired by the radical swaying motion of the two-masted pine and its potential to land on (a) our neighbor to the south, (b) our neighbor to the east, or (c) us, we had our favorite arborist remove that one also. At the same time neighbor (a) asked me to cut back some arborvitae in the DMZ that were growing out onto his property.

Suddenly the land of darkness has turned into an outdoor solarium.

Our plan for this spring is to see what grows there now. So, as part of that stratagem, I was meandering through the underbrush looking to remove dead brush and/or bully limbs that had entwined themselves around their weaker brethren. In doing that I came upon the mother of all grape vines. These woody ramblers have popped up over the years throughout the DMZ. I have never seen nor have I sought the main source. I normally just cut up what I need to in order to untwine whatever dead branch I was trying to remove and left the grape holders to fend for themselves. But this time the vine appeared to be strangling itself, so I went at it a little more seriously. So seriously that I did not notice the three branches of blossoming pink apple blossoms that brushed against my head as I struggled with the thick, clinging plant.

I prefer to believe that this is evidence of my ability to focus like a laser on the task at hand. Others might say it indicates my general obliviousness to my surroundings. Either way I became aware of the flowering crab before I did it any damage. It is about four feet tall, and more than a hand grip in girth. It is not at all symmetrical.

After calling Mars out to witness my discovery, and with her guidance, I carefully removed all competition with any proximity to our new floral treasure. It is the best chance that we can give it.

 Like this year’s feel-good sports story, pro basketballer Jeremy Lin, a lifelong understudy who got thrust into the starring role – anybody who has managed to survive for that long, in that little light, with that little room to grow, probably doesn’t really need that much help to flourish – or possibly to take over everything.

Time will tell.

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