May 9, 2011

Irrepressible Life

Vermont's cold, fairly wet climate is conducive to tree growth. Land that was open field or pasture, hard won from virgin forest at the beginning of the 19th century, has grown back into woods. I have three small fields, separated by roads, as part of my homestead. Years ago cows kept them grassy, but now I have to hire someone to brush hog them or they would quickly grow back to scrub, then woods. It's been three years since a tractor has cut the fields and small pine trees were growing up happily here and there, two or three feet tall and vigorous.

Even though I know this happens, I am still amazed at how quickly the trees can establish themselves. And they are getting ready to spread their seed. So I went out with the loppers and cut down 20 or 30 little trees; seeing the fields clear of the small verticals made me happy. My body and heart love an open space; I think my African savannah ancestry must be strong in me.

It is not only in open fields that plants have such a strong urge to grow. Even between the unfriendly large stones of the walls surrounding my back yard are many unwanted shrubs and brambles. Each year I cut them back and each year they grow again, undaunted.

And it's not just plants that grow and thrive no matter the conditions or how hard we try to get rid of them. As I was walking through a field, I noticed a spread of dirt, and sure enough, there was a woodchuck hole, a charming enough creature if I can keep it and its progeny out of my garden. ...Ah life!


  1. Our neighbors planted a group of white pines and I am constantly stunned at the speed with which those trees grow. Since they hide their house, it's a positive thing in this case.

  2. They say the white pines are candling when they put up those shoot-clusters. It's one of the stages of spring that I watch for. I need some more pines in my field, for the same reason as Linda. But the reed canary grass keeps anything else from growing. I'm going to have to plant them myself. What a funny thing to do -- I spend a lot of time trying to keep the woods from taking over where I don't want them, too.

  3. ah yes, Susan, that's another vigorous grower, the reed canary grass. It's all over my property now too. Good luck with the pines!