The True Meaning of Happiness

I have poison ivy in 6 places.  Ear, neck, cheek, chest, wrist, bicep.  ITCH.  Not sure where I picked it up, but I hope it was not in the perennial garden last Sunday, because I spent the day out there today battling briers and vines.  If that is where the current rash came from, I am in deep trouble.  I also have a thorn in the first finger on my left hand.  This hard thorn pierced my leather glove today and hurt a LOT.  I quickly yanked glove from hand.  In doing so, I broke the thorn off below the skin’s surface.  Now, every time I bend my finger it feels like someone is smacking a finishing nail into it.   At first I thought the thorn was horizontal, parallel to the knuckle.  Upon closer inspection, I believe it went straight down into the joint.  Now I am trying to keep my finger straight and hope the barb works its way IMG_7674out SOON.  Meanwhile, it is swelling nicely and feels hot.

My last post described the neglect this perennial garden has suffered and my wish to reclaim it.  Today, I managed to uncover an additional 200 square feet or so.  It’s slow going, but makes me happy.  For real!  Unfortunately, 60% of the vegetation consists of multiflora rose and wild blackberry.  I have learned to watch carefully as I cut and drag and dig and prune and yank.  The blackberry canes are frosted purple and easy to spot, low to the ground.  Pretty, even.  But as I cut and pull the long purple briers, they whip around my legs and grab my clothes and bite me.  The rose vines are sneakier and meaner, higher than my head, a full 8 feet tall.  They are brown and green, camouflaged and vicious.  I move cautiously, turn my back when I pull a 15 foot vine free, lest it bullwhip my face.  I keep little pruning shears in one hand, I lean back pulling vines taught with the other hand; snip, snip, snip the vines at ground level as I go.  Sometimes they spring like a rubber band, leap back at me with sharp edges.  These vines are not your every day plants.  They run along the surface, dip below the soil, branch out in 6 directions with gripping tiny roots, run back into a marble-sized ball 4 feet later and sprout thorns.  Eight years untended.  On the upside, I did find two peonies and a lot of mystery bulbs!

IMG_7676Three plants, multiflora rose, blackberry, and honeysuckle work together, against me.  The rose and blackberry have had years to wind around each other, they have married, they have made honeysuckle their daughter.  Honeysuckle is passive compared to the thorny vines, but she winds tight and binds, she grows to ridiculous lengths to keep her family together.  She will coil and harden herself like a 1974 curly phone cord.  While there are no thorns, she is not innocent.  She will eventually strangle her family, cousins and all.  Except the THORNY VINES.  She has some agreement with them, they stick together, support each other, a forever twirling plant hug.

More than once today a willow-like branch dipped from above, its briers grabbed my straw sun hat and pulled it from my head.  This gave wind the opportunity to  fling my hat a few  yards.  Twice, the rose (by any other name, still a bitch) tore my shirt, once sticking in my back, so that each time I tried to pull away it drew blood.   Also, I forgot and rubbed my face with a gloved hand.  The same face that already has poison ivy on it.  So I have that going for me.

I was supposed to go to a fun dinner party with my sister-in-law Cindy tonight.  I really wanted to, but found myself unable to move fast enough to make it.  I had an achy back, stretched hamstrings, thorny fingers, poison ivy face… and I just ran out of steam.  Instead, I ate rich split-pea and ham soup made by my man, crostini topped with my sister’s arugula pesto.  I drank a beer and itched and scratched and thought more about the pen I need to build by Wednesday so I can bring my chickens home from Dana’s house. I think I have found the true meaning of happiness.  


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4 Comments on “The True Meaning of Happiness”

  1. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    i hope the berries are so sweet
    and the beauty so breathtaking
    that the thorn and itch are overshadowed and soon
    by crazy joy in the garden.
    and don’t be overly brave about that poison ivy
    …prednisone can be a beautiful thing
    when it’s right.



  2. LP Machin Says:

    You are an “itchy” amazement! I love the plant HUG comment and your hat blowing in the wind. I’m sure, with the “Mary” touch the garden will be prettier than EVER! And soon, fresh eggs, too – you are happy, aren’t you, Mountain Girl! ( Take care of your injuries – itchy hot is never good, but then you know how to take care of that! ) Miss you!



  3. John Reid Says:

    Sounds like you have your hands full Mary. I understand about the thorns since Alice and I have been trimming our lemon tree. We both have battle scars. I started a garden this year. We sill see what we get. Planted corn & garlic in the ground already. have sprouts starting of lettuce, cabbage, green beans and mustard, turnip & collard greens. Looking forward to fresh greens. Good luck to both of us.



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