Nature is rapidly reclaiming the area where our garden flourished only five years ago. Although we enjoyed gardening, climbing those eighteen steep stone steps from our back yard to the terraced beds has proved more than we can manage. We decided to plant a few tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in pots on the lower level.
Wild blackberry and raspberry brambles that invaded the upper border the first year we abandoned the garden have spread rapidly. Poke weed over six feet tall dangles clusters of purple poisonous berries, and clusters of goldenrod sway in the autumn breeze. Bushes that I don’t recognize are scattered throughout the area, some with delicate pink blossoms.
The railroad ties that supported the terraced beds are rotting, making walking through the knee high grasses hazardous. I am amazed to see several varieties of seedlings scattered throughout the area. Some saplings have trunks almost two inches in diameter. Several oaks, probably planted by some absent minded squirrel, stand as high as my shoulder. Wild cherries, tulip poplar, maples, locusts abound. Their seeds must have blown from neighbors’ trees. We had no deciduous trees – only Virginia, or “scrub” pines.
Fifty-three years ago when we bought our house, this upper level of our lot was undeveloped. Twenty tall Virginia pines, their roots covered by tangles of honeysuckle and poison ivy, stretched their dark trunks and scrawny branches toward the sky. Harry rolled up his sleeves, grabbed his clippers and tackled the undergrowth, eager to remove snake hideaways and prepare a safe place for our children to play. Blistered hands, an aching back and an unbelievable bout with poison ivy (shouldn’t have rolled those sleeves up!) slowed his progress, but soon he accomplished his goal. When our boys were old enough, he built a tree house for them and it became a favorite hideaway for the neighborhood boys.
Virginia pines have a rather short life, and before long they began to fall during winter storms. Harry began the back-breaking task of clearing the area. He sawed the tree trunks into logs for a friend who wanted them for his fireplace, despite Harry’s warning that pine trees create creosote when they burn. His friend removed every log, solving a big problem — disposal.
After much hard work on weekends and long summer evenings, the stumps were finally removed and the land was tilled and terraced with four level beds bounded by railroad ties. A compost bin completed this project. Our garden provided healthful exercise and fresh vegetables for many years… until our weary bodies convinced us that we were entering another season of our lives. And the cycle of life continued for the garden, returning to a wooded, natural habitat for wild creatures.
All creation – plant life, animal life, human life — is constantly changing and “becoming,” it is never static. Only the Creator never changes. Perhaps that is why his name is “I AM.”
– Mary Jo Shannon