The Wilderness Is A Jungle

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

We are fast approaching Labor Day, that near the end of summer 3-day weekend holiday where I try to catch-up on all of the outdoor work that didn’t get done in preparation for autumn and the ultimately later frigid weather.

Owing to alternating horribly hot & humid Hoosier weather making me opt for the inside air conditioning in hopes of cooler days for outdoor work and the frequent Midwest monsoons leaving the lake level going out the emergency overflows and wilderness run-off creeks running most of the summer, I have more than ample outdoor work.

There’s the rutted lane due to the aptly named ‘gulley warsher’ rains that need re-re-graded again.

There are the weeds growing along the lake and creek that since May I promised myself I would get the string trimmer and cut back. That was a promise broken multiple times. And the weeds kept growin’

There are the plethora of sticks, limbs, parts of trees that have died, decayed and fallen during the wind and rains on either the lane or the several acres of grass that gets cut. Sticks on the lane that are too big to run over causes a slight delay in exiting or entering the property while the vehicle is stopped, driver gets out, and wood offal gets tossed into the forest where it can complete its decay.

Of course there’s the blade sharpening that is on-going and the mower-engine-drive train tweaking to get one more mowin’ before major maintenance must be done.

I’ve not even started the chainsaw this season to cut wood for the fireplace. But I don’t have to replenish much thanks to El Nina the warmer than usual last winter didn’t deplete my woodshed as much as previous years.

On the gardening to-do list is making raised bed half barrel planters for root crops. Here in the wilderness, voles, shrews, mice and underground dwelling bugs thoroughly welcome our efforts to grow potatoes, turnips, and onions for their meals.

There have been some success stories. The clearance hanging pot ferns we bought for $5 looked pretty pathetic back in early June, but weekly fertilizing, daily watering and vocal encouragement has resulted in two lush hanging baskets that will need to be divided before storing away in the basement for winter.

The white & purple butterfly bushes have rebounded from the trimming that Emma the Great Pyrenees puppy teethingly gave them in the spring to be attracting flying flowers and hummingbirds in August.

The purple leaves of Persian Shield and the sweet potato vine have gotten along famously as they spread over much of the front porch, almost like kudzu.

And there is the first year effort growing colorful caladium and mammoth elephant ear. And again, the bulbs came from the discount bin at the big box store and we got them in the pots late. But the same kind of fertilizing, watering and encouragement has resulted in a deck rail full of red, green, white & yellow caladium and large elephant ears that wave in the breeze. The largest ear measure 24”x30” and can look me in the eye.

Some aspects of the wilderness jungle aren’t a bad thing.