Living on an island has a lot of advantages, but it isn’t entirely without drawbacks. One issue that never seems to go away on a fertile rock surrounded by warm weather, ocean breezes and lots of sun is nature in its greenest form. The plants in the valley I was raised in grow like plumes of smoke at a shuttle launch, and they’re about as easy to contain. A yard let go will consume a house in this environment, and unless weapons grade defoliants are to be used to counter the invasion, a long and tedious battle will ensue to take the house back. The best defense in this situation is an eternally vigilant stalemate of garden boundaries, and nobody, but nobody I know of, has ever fought the great dead-even draw of gardening as well as my mother. She did not fight this battle alone. She enlisted the services of all available household dwellers. Consequently, my love of plants was, at the time, akin to my fondness of brussel sprouts, or asparagus.
When facing an opponent as single minded, and driven as a croton, various tea plants or a lawai fern, there are several ways to go about rebuffing their advances. I should mention now that gas powered tools were not as available then, and the electric ones were lame!
My primary mode of attack back then was to take to the advancing menace with a set of shears like the ones above. Slicing and dicing, I would have feverishly hacked swaths of eviscerated leaves strewn all about the lawn. Afterward, the plants looked as though I had lifted a lawnmower until the blade was vertical and had simply run down the aisle of greenery with the blades spinning madly the whole way. The chaos of tattered leaves and twigs would be raked up and dumped in a mulch heap as large as a Volkswagen just off the property line in the jungle.
At the end of the culling I’d have the cautious realisation that the plants would return the following week. It seemed to me that in this everlasting battle for yard supremacy a quick victory and the celebratory beer were to be relished. Within an hour or two you were finished, a returning victor from the fern wars, and yet I considered that only the battle had been won, not the war.
My mom never chose the ‘shears of mass destruction’ mentality. She was more of a ‘precise extraction with hand snips’ sort of gardener. To my mom, yard work wasn’t a forced battle against the foliage. She loved the plants. Hell, she planted most of them, and she spent literal hours reaching, plucking, pulling and pruning them. She would negotiate with the shrubs, shoots and sprouts in order to create a simple detente for backyard borders. I came to believe that if mom did the cutting, the plants would voluntarily hold their ground for an extra week before stubbornly rekindling their quest for more sunlight. I admired her ability to come to a sort of agreement with the plants, and I still do, but I never found the passion for the greens as a kid.
I moved off island, and eventually my folks sold that house to move into something without the awesomely green and time consuming a yard. At about the same time as the sale, in another state, a good friend of mine asked me to help out with some gardening for a client. Somewhat surprisingly I agreed to help out and I found that although I worked slowly, I did enjoy the experience. I stopped using the speedy, heavy-handed cutting shears and turned to hand snips. I lost the yearning to just be finished. I was enjoying the plants, as well as the effort it took to make them look good. Thanks mom!
You never know if the things you hated as a kid will ever serve you with a sense of enjoyment later in life. Individual tastes change all the time, but give yourself the opportunity to try them in order to find out. I think you or somebody you know might like the MANVIL cards, but I’ll bet you still hate brussel sprouts, just like me.