Updated: May 25
This post topic was inspired by Sharon Edmonds, yoga instructor extraordinaire.
When Paul and I purchased our property in Mono, Ontario, we inherited a stunningly beautiful view of the Hockley Valley, numerous gardens, and a whole pile of trees. Heaven on earth. We bought the house in a snow-covered December so we had to take the seller's word that the gardens were, indeed, beautiful. Well, come the following spring, we quickly discovered that, yes, there were gardens and, no, they were not beautiful. They'd been allowed to run amok for eight years. Left to their own devices meant weeds, weeds, grass, weeds, more grass.
We spent the first five years recovering the gardens and other overgrown areas, and now, we are ready to go after the vines. Last weekend, Paul and I spent about 90 minutes in a tag team of vine-icide. Paul employed the hand-held chain saw and I did the pulling and detangling. We cleared a patch about 2' x 2' before we were wiped out and needed to take a nap. True story.
Whilst soaking my aching body in a hot tub, I started thinking about the vines. So often we find metaphors to life within Mother Nature and this is no exception. I envisioned the vines as the Corona Virus. Parasitic, invasive, soulless. Strangling, entrapping, breathless. Murderous. Those vines just cut a swath across the existing vibrant, life-sustaining trees and bushes and slowly strangled the life out of them. There appears to be no symbiosis here, just one organism shamelessly feeding off another for its own survival.
I have an overly zealous hate on for those vines. They come across as grasping, bullying, aggressive, entitled (can I anthropomorphize plants?). Those poor trees, just minding their own business, not hurting anyone, benign, were seized upon and helpless to protect themselves (although one could argue that good land stewardship would have behooved the previous owners to nip those bad boys in the bud before they'd had a chance at a hostile takeover).
There was something satisfyingly primal about hauling on the cut vines and freeing the trees from their clutches. I got myself all worked up with righteous anger as I ripped the vines away and tossed them mercilessly in a pile. I have visions of setting them alight, watching them burn into oblivion but that feels a little too, um, gleeful. Although, the way I'm feeling these days about the pandemic, and having had to exist in PTSD-inducing Survival Mode for more than a year, I am definitely feeling closer to primitive than civilized.
At first, I went at the hauling, and pulling, and ripping with a fury that fuelled my strength and commitment. It felt cathartic as I released so much of the pent-up frustration and grief of a stifled life that was, in itself, imposed upon me without my consent. Yes, I am the trees; the vines are the virus. Not to put too fine a point on it.
As I am wont to do, my inner thoughts ran to why I was so wiped out after so little time with the vines. Okay, yes, I am 58 years old and my physical stamina is not what it used to be. But I recognized that there was more to it. I had approached the task with contempt and enmity. My animosity toward those vines had grown over the years but so had my fear of them. Every time I walked past that tangled mess of vampiric vine-age, it took on a deeper and deeper sinister aspect, in my mind. Physical outlay fuelled by negative motivators causes undue stress on the nerves, the joints, the muscles. For that 90 minutes, I was all tensed up with grrrrrrr.
But then I saw this a couple of days later. New growth! Amongst all that death and destruction, life!
And suddenly I understood the message. Even in death, there is life. Even in dire circumstances, there is hope, and a desperately optimistic will to live. Seeing the new growth was like breathing in a bountiful dose of fresh air. My lungs expanded, my heart opened. The blood in my veins slooooowed itself down. I could be present to the whole and not just myopically focussed on the destruction of the hated vines. Because there is always a bigger picture which brings clarity.
The vines have to go. Of that, there is no doubt. But I don't have to hate them in order to remove them. Because Mother Nature tends not to make mistakes, there must be some reason for vines. Just because I can't see it, doesn't mean there is no purpose. Taking a trust-in-the-Universe approach can only lead to peace and perhaps a deeper lesson learned.