Late musings

Rustic Ramblings

Years ago, I discovered wild Clematis Crispa vines in our pastures. They resemble little purple bells. I coaxed a few to grow near the house. Besides the pasture violets we relocated years ago, the delicate, wild Clematis has been my most successful transplant patient. They’ve rewarded me by gracing several fences and trailing up an arbor then seeding for months.

More plants pop up each spring, and I help the cultivation along by gathering and spreading the seeds to other fence lines.

A critter of unknown species sneaked into my greenhouse two summers ago and made a big mess. When we banished him, he retaliated by chewing the tops off several tiny pecan seedlings we’d transplanted from the river bottom - only one survived. We call it Groot. If you saw Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll get it. Groot’s had a year to grow, and that’s progressing slowly. He’s still with us, despite the hungry critter’s best efforts - one tough little pecan tree.

Later, another - or more likely a pair of - squirrels took up residence in the greenhouse and raised a happy family. They chewed through stored chair cushions, seeds awaiting planting, anything and everything including several large baskets. They knocked over a myriad of items on open shelving. We still don’t know how they entered or left. It remains a mystery.

This year, a critter - that turned out to be another squirrel - probably one of those who grew up in the greenhouse was caught red-handed a few yards away, chewing deer antlers that adorn Zack’s outdoor pavilion. Despite my best efforts, said rodent - rat with furry tail - returned again and again, eventually chewing both antlers completely through.

I’ve since that time declared war on the entire, local squirrel population, tirelessly attempting to trap every squirrel in a five-mile radius. None have been harmed. All were relocated to high-dollar riverfront property far from human habitation.

I can’t say I miss them. Cute, yes. Destructive, you betcha. They had to go. There is always a couple around to torment me and steal the bird seed. I’ll get ‘em eventually. The problem is that like rabbits, they always seem to make more.

And rabbits, don’t get me started. They love to hang out in the yard. Yes, they’ve eaten some of our garden, but no, we don’t really mind them. They think if they’re in the bamboo, under a bush or sitting very still that we won’t notice. We humor them.

They seem to delude themselves, thinking that nests and baby bunnies in our back yard are great ideas. The dogs they assume may keep them safe from coyotes would also love breakfast bunnies. It’s a good thing these rabbits run faster than our pups.

Speaking of black bamboo, Zack started our patch a decade ago from one tiny, expensive plant. I thought he’d lost his mind to pay so much and to expect that little thing to shade the west side of my studio. Black bamboo’s less invasive than its more common green cousin, but within a very few years that youngster became a patch of gargantuan proportions

Each spring, dozens of spikes shoot up in and around the original plant. The root system’s wandered far, even under a wide breezeway “hall”. Now shoots are popping up in a few spaces between deck board slats of the breezeway floor. I like the effect toward one end. Rather Zen-like. So I’m leaving a few intact for now.

Mowing usually keeps the enthusiastic bamboo from spreading too far into the yard. Zack allowed the patch to enlarge for a few years, but decided it needed a big haircut last spring. That required stout loppers.

Despite the issues involved in keeping our enthusiastic bamboo in check, we transplanted some roots to the other side of the studio, hoping it will eventually block some of the morning sun. I’ve attempted this twice before, with less than stellar results. Perhaps plans will come to fruition this time.

The now more diminutive bamboo forest remains habitat to an alarming number of birds - mostly finches from the sound of them. I love hearing them chirp and fuss as I pass. Their numbers grow with spring migrations and as the bamboo attempted to recover its larger perimeter. We hear them rustling around at night.

This year-round susurration somewhat makes up for the loss of hummingbirds each fall. I miss them already, and they haven’t even left yet. But life’s a circle. They’ll return next spring. Like bamboo shoots and bunnies.

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