Rising above nature


Good grief, it has been a long time since I last posted. I’ll do my best to get back on the wagon. My children are like kittens, and when I try to write or draw, they do the equivalent of a cat’s sitting on one’s newspaper, or knocking things off of shelves, only on a more problematic scale.

In lieu of a drawing, I present the painting above, which I love, done by my redoubtable mother-in-law. It looks like it could be a western North Carolina scene – it would look even more so if the blue trees in the background were mountains.

On to the burden of this post. It’s easy to wax idyllic about rural life. Our little vegetable gardens are producing like mad. There are pretty trees and flowers and horses and goats all around. On the other hand, there are also large snakes, spiders, and ticks; sweaty-hot days, weeds and thorns and poison ivy.

Poison ivy!  I had no idea of the hidden depths of this plant. It has settled comfortably down in our woods and has spread itself liberally. Did you know, that so much more than leaves of three which ought to be left be, poison ivy makes thick and horrifying V.O.U.S.s (Vines of Unusual Sizes)?  Hairy winding vines, some as thick as your arm (well, my arm) that climb up and choke trees? So I have learned, and we have a couple of fine specimens here, along with all their running branches. Our little homestead, if we were in England, might be named ironically “The Ivies.”

My sister and I, when we are NOT feeling the idyllic side of nature, declaim a version of Katharine Hepburn’s character’s words from The African Queen – “Nature…is what we are put in this world to rise above.”  A couple of weeks ago I went down into the woods, full of vim, to forge some trails. If you want to experience a physical analog of the dark and tortuous depths of human nature, come and visit our woods. Long neglected, it’s got scads of matted thorns, fallen logs, decay, even a dark and spooky gully. It’s given me a new appreciation for park services – and for saints.

If you want to see it you might come soon. I emerged after 45 minutes to ask my husband to get hold of a Bobcat. Untouched nature has a lot of fans, but civilization is a lovely thing, so say I.

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