Monday, September 15, 2008


The previous owner of our townhouse was some kind of gardening addict. I wouldn't be surprised if she had sold her soul to posses a dark, alien power over the plant kingdom. An eternity simmering in the searing lakes of fires a fair bargain for godlike dominion over anything that grows, flowers, or responds quite well to Miracle Gro.

There were layers of plants on top of plants in our tiny, thumb stamp sized garden. Grasses fought with bushes tussled with vines to create a horror of chlorophyllic power. Rain could be seen to bend it's earthward path to drench our tiny little patch, infusing our unholy writhing mass of vegetable matter with some kind of maddening, unnatural sea of plant riotousness.

A year ago Mrs. Owl took some serious looking shearing clipppers to the lot of it. Cutting and slashing like it was a Brazillian rainforest in the way of a grazing herd fattening up to be an integral part of our drive-through menus. When she was done it didn't look much different than if she had just taken napalm and a pinch of agent orange to the plot. Bare is a word. 'Hacked to within an inch of its life then curbstomped for all of Youtube to enjoy' perhaps even more accurate.

Come spring, the entire thing -- whole alien mess of vegetative might -- sprang back, heathier than ever. If you listened carefully, the mating call of a rare but very small primate could be heard from the underbrush. Ruggedly handsome men in tilly hats  and tan vests  festooned with thousands of dollars of photography equipment were knocking politely on our door and asking if they could take a few shots for National Geographic. That plot pulsed with life. Does the word 'Jumanji' bring to mind a certain degree of sentient, perhaps malevolent lushness? It's not entirely un-apt.

So, this weekend, we took to hacking it down again. We used more serious tools. Handled implements that might find a more natural home at a ditch digging contracter or a small mining concern.

How dare you grasses and undergrowth grow in a temperate rainforest with optimal lighting and precipitation conditions! Aieee! Back! Have at ye! And so forth. 

There were root systems and bulb networks that would shatter your understanding of reality. There was digging and rooting and leaning on shovels. I felt like I should desire a cold beer or something after. At the very least a rowdy and fight-filled night at the neighbourhood pub. I felt manly, this is what it must feel like to drive a pickup and have a gun rack or something. This is what it must feel like to pop open the hood and not just fiddle with the lid for the windshield wiper fluid. Sure, I've put together furniture... well... 'furniture', but this was man's work. True, I worked alongside  my wife. True, it took less than an hour. It's the principle of the thing.

And, looking at that newly cleaned plot of land, a thought hit me. This 'dirt' is really an ecosystem of itself, writhing with detritivores and annelids, bacteria and beetles. It's a living, breathing organism, rife with the struggling genetic codes of MILLIONS of years of invertebrates maximising energy transfer and genomic survival. I marvelled for a moment, saw the dirt beneath my fingernails and thought, 'Shit, I better wash this off before I get back to TF2'.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"How dare you grasses and undergrowth grow in a temperate rainforest with optimal lighting and precipitation conditions!"