Tuesday, June 21 2011
We've been living here in rural Hurley Township for nearly nine years now, and, given the benignly neglectful way we've chosen to administer our yard and surrounding grounds, we're getting plenty of textbook examples of ecological succession. For example, what was once a grassy field covering the mound in which our septic leach array is buried is now a dense forest of ten-foot-tall White Pines (all of which were seeded by natural processes). In the shady area south of the house we've seen some sort of tea mint give way first to Garlic Mustard and then to an unidentified hardy late-summer weed that can easily grow to four feet tall. In the wild several-thousand-square-foot patch nearest the road, we've tried to plant a variety of trees, and while the White Pines, Silver Maples, and a Sycamore have done well, the Flowering Dogwoods and a Redbud have not survived. That area tends to be swampy, so we've gradually seen the grasses replaced with sedges and even rushes. Near our house, the heartiest vegetation of field succession is the Tree of Heaven (many examples of which have sprung up in the unmowed area just east of the house) and some sort of rose bush. In just a couple years, an enormous rose thicket emerged northeast of the greenhouse, and I've been forced to trim it back just to have a usable trail out to the road. Also out of nowhere, a large rose bush has appeared between our row of planted White Pines and the road, and it's sent out tentacles so quickly that it's blocked my access to a pair of White Pines I've been watering in this row (these are two new ones to that replaced ones that died under warranty). To keep my watering path navigable to people (such as myself) in summer attire, today I was out there with a pair of tin snips cutting back those treacherous rose tentacles.
Gretchen returned from errands and a meeting in greater Woodstock with several cartons of takeaway from my new favorite Woodstock restaurant: the Yum Yum noodle place. Unfortunately, there was an unexpected boiled egg in one of the orders, which (for me) was about as horrifying as finding a turd or an aborted human fœtus nestled there among the bean sprouts. As long-term readers will know, I've been vegan with respect to eggs since before I had words to express my disgust, and I find boiled eggs (which, let's face it, smell worse than a poorly-vented outhouse) their most disgusting incarnation.
Gretchen also cracked open a bottle of Vinho Verde, and we dined out on the East deck. At some point in our meal, Gretchen gently nudged the conversation over to whether I've been doing as much as I can to land a new gig, the kind that pays money. I haven't taken on any new jobs in months, and my contribution to the household budget is out of proportion to my demands upon it. Meanwhile, Gretchen has a job that gives us both health care and, on top of that, she recently landed a book advance for which she's already received a five digit payment. So yes, I do need to be doing more to pull my weight. And I need to be doing less work that holds only a slim chance of paying me at some point in the future.
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