Taming the Landscape May 16, 2012

Some days I really love to just stay on the mountain. Because it is so shady, I can even stay out of the sun most of the time. This morning I lopped off much of the azalea bushes at the edge of the driveway, which form a barrier between the side of the cabin and the view of the grapevine and peach tree which is along the road very close to the cabin. I'm anticipating the bears coming when the peach tree is ripe, so I want to be able to see the bears and not surprise them. Definitely don't want to come up on them and corner them on my way in or out.  I used my weed rake, the blade that is held parallel to the ground and swung like a golf club, and I took down the bank of weeds under and around the peach tree, and the weeds in the center of the logging track. The grape vine, which is quite large and strung along wires between 2 heavy posts, with two vines, one beside each post, is naturally reaching up towards the light and had infused itself into the peach tree. So I pulled down the vines that I could and intertwined them with along the coated wires. There are tiny little seeds, the size of a mustard grain, pale green, which are future grapes. I did sprinkle some fertilizer under them about a month ago; this is my laissez faire attitude towards gardening. I really believe if the plants know you love them, they will grow for you. I had to cut some of the vine down, and toss it over the hillside, along with bushels of azaleas brush. The peaches are small, hard, just fit inside my fist, and wear fuzzy green coats. Then I went along the driveway, pulling vines out of the nandina bushes. I've learned to wear gloves here, and my bear bells as a bracelet. I was also collecting any big stones I found, so I could finish lining the garden beds along the front of the house and the split rail fence. Those two flower beds are finished, heavily mulched and packed with lilies, echinacea, iris, sedum, tickseed, marigold, basil, chives, mint, creeping thyme, phlox. Then I trotted around the side of the deck, where there is a bank that looked like the only other potential area I would try to tame, since the previous owners had evidently put in some daylilies and a bit of phlox and their vestiges remain. But the whole bank needed weeding and it needs heavy mulch to keep down the weeds. It's a major project, but when I see it I imagine what I can get it to look like and start weeding and clearing. I like the challenge, and I like to make my visions come into being. I also hacked away at making a set of steps out of the rocks running up beside the deck to the top of the bank. It looked as if, 25 years ago or so, someone had tried to make some steps up, but it was basically fallen. So I cut away at the side of the clay bank with my shovel, heaving into it, pulling up a lot of small rocks and pulling over large ones to make a series of steps. They work for me, and I've tried to make them stable enough for my big moose of a husband. It's not quite done, but almost. It was so satisfying. I really love physical labor, and hope to put more of it into my life, as well as much heavier walking and hiking. But first I have to get my homestead into shape.

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