14 August 2010

De-vine Thoughts


There is a spot in my yard that I have not had much time to "deal" with. It's also one of those spots that is a bit difficult - weird shape, a mishmash of vegetation, and a couple of poorly chosen plants. Our area's extension offices suggest, "right plant, right place", meaning if you put right plant into right place you have less watering, pests, disease, etc.

A few years back I remember seeing this vine start growing there that in the end nearly took over that weird spot. It was lush and green, and within weeks literally covered nearly everything in there - the necklacepod shrub, coontie mini-palm, and the slash pine tree were this new shade of green to a height nearly higher than our roof. It was kind of a nice change - something (anything) different, and had these bright yellow flowers all over, and I left it there, partly because I was exhausted (I was probably either pregnant or nursing), but partly because it was nice-looking and it seemed harmless, especially because it died back to the ground after rainy season.

Now here I am, however many years later with "right plant, right place" in mind for this weird spot, yet with us in the midst of rainy season, seeing tiny little versions of this vine ALL OVER the spot. I pull one up and see two more. Whenever I weed these little vines out of the spot, it reminds me of my habits. Oh, goodness, habits can be so tough to break, can't they?

What can we learn from the offspring of one unassuming vine?
1. They are easier to deal with when small.
Last year, when it came to vine-removal time, I nearly pulled up my very-large shrub because of the mass of tendrils enveloping its branches. It is so much easier to pull up the tender shoots of this plant than the adult versions. Deal with the small habits in your life before they get so big that they are really tough to get rid of.
2. You must totally eliminate all remnants of it or you may end up with another BIG ONE.
After five minutes out there I think I have got it all, but then I see another one. I know that if I let even one stay, it could well be the one to take over. Whatever your weakness might be, actively avoid the opportunity to be tempted. It sometimes only takes once to "fall off the horse".
3. What sometimes looks so nice on the outside can do great damage.
What pretty vine, what pretty flowers. What damage to my shrub that cannot see the sunlight or my tall slash pine that wears scars of your sharp fingers! Don't fall for things just for their pretty packaging or quick promises, as the inside is not always what is holy, right, true, or good.
4. What seems harmless this time is often sowing seeds that will continue to sprout for a long time.
My black thumb and I would never have guessed that one mess of vines could make this much trouble a whole year later. Problems like this in our own lives sometimes come up generations in a row. How might your choices today affect your children? Their friends? Your children's children?
5. Share what you have learned with others.
If you have one of these vines growing in your life and you have overcome it, then you need to help others who might find themselves in your shoes. Share your experience with those who may not know any better, or may not know a way out. I've taken to pulling this vine from neighbors' yards so it does not spread to ours, and telling them why it should be pulled, too.

And so, for the time-being, I will continue my mission to de-vine my weird front yard spot. I have a feeling I have not seen the last of it...

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