Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Battle is Joined,

The Enemies: English ivy (above) and vinca major.

 the die is cast, I have taken the field, and there is nothing to fear but fear itself.  I have begun to kill alien invasives. 

This follows a decade of neglect that began when my old love of sailing reignited, and became a passion for boatbuilding and making small sailing voyages.  Since finishing a twenty-foot two-masted sailboat in 2005, I have built an eleven-foot pram dinghy, a sixteen-foot two-seat kayak, a fifteen-foot enclosed cabin pram sailboat, and a skin-on-frame single-seat kayak.  Along the way, I sailed every part of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, much of the south coast of Massachusetts and Buzzards Bay, and made several trips to off-shore destinations like Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, Provincetown on Cape Cod, and Montauk, Long Island.  I've paddled and sailed nearly the entire Taunton River  Many of these trips lasted several days.

And when I wasn't sailing I was planning to sail, doing boat-building or maintenance, experimenting with improvements in boat or gear, or simply dreaming of sailing or paddling trips.

But lately my attention has turned back ashore as sailing opportunities have been curtailed by my need for summer employment and the necessities of family life.

And so I have begun once more to take my Wild Place in hand. 

When we first bought the property over fifteen years ago I--in my pride of ownership and environmental consciousness--determined to make it a worthy bit of urban nature.   I tore up the garden strip against the south side of the house and put in native grasses and forbs.  The back woods were bigger, so a bigger challenge.  My whole attention at that time was to do mortal combat with the English ivy that covered everything, and I put time into the project over several summers.  Then I put a few meadow plants into one clear spot, hoping for enough sunlight to keep them alive. 

But the meadow failed, and the woods were gradually overrun by ivy, and now also vinca.

Now I know a bit more than I did then.  I recognize Norway maple as a true invasive (rather than just an alien nuisance), I have spotted European buckthorn out there, and I have watched the vinca invade more and more.  I am now ready to put the Nature back into it, though at the cost of losing the true Wildness.  It is going to be a "managed" or "modified" natural place.  

Results of early battles.

 Standing wearily amid the dead, sword (figurative) hanging limply at my side.

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