It started four years ago when he said it couldn’t be done. Whether he said it on purpose, or without thinking, he knows I can’t resist a challenge.
The more than 900-foot overgrown hillside which separates the street from the property had become overgrown with aggressive and unruly weeds. From small trees to untamed bushes, the debris had eventually grown to be 10 feet tall. It’s not that anyone probably cares, as it’s considered to be a country road and used mostly by the folks who live on it, but I have become obsessed with keeping this bank tidy and clean.
Since I still can’t get clearance to run a chainsaw by myself most of the small trees were cut down with a battery operated sawzall, extra batteries and poison to put on the stumps to keep them from growing back. There were so many woody plants, I’m sure he thought it was just a matter of time before I called it quits. No matter the backache, blisters or bad knees, I got it cleared out just in time for it to start growing a fresh new set of weeds.
There is a drawback from having the area clean of overgrowth as the trash that folks throw out of their car windows is more obvious. We live on a bend so apparently it’s a natural reflex for their arms to flop out of the window and dispose of trash that should never have left the car. The weekends are especially trashy. My front doorstep may be 800 feet from the street but how would they like it if I trashed up their front yard with litter?
After everything was removed down to dirt, we planted 2,000 seeds of a plant called vetch, which promised to take over the hillside. It didn’t live up to its reputation, so then we planted 100 ivy plants. For the last three years I’ve been babying half of the hillside along, pulling grass and whichever weed of the season tries to strangle out the ivy. I can finally say the ivy has won and half of the sloping bank is covered with ivy, while I battle with the other half trying to keep the weeds away.
If I whine long enough I can usually convince him a project is worthy enough to consider talking about. I’ve talked about the hillside dilemma at least three times a week, sometimes four, and, if I think he wasn’t listening, I’ll keep repeating myself until he gives in. Something has to be done with the other half. We can’t just keep spraying it with weed killer. It looks naked compared to the ivy covered area.
I’m sure part of his hesitation to plant more ivy this spring is my work space is on the narrow two-lane road we live on – not an ideal situation when a vehicle comes by. I do step out of the way, if I can, and sometimes I’ll park the golf cart and wagon in front of me, thinking they would hit it first. This theory didn’t make him feel any better about, although he also knows I’m going to do what I do, regardless of the safety factor.
Maybe for Christmas I’ll ask for a traffic safety vest and a couple of orange cones.
Sandy Turner is a GateHouse Media columnist.