The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Fighting the Odds


Weeds-tenacious, digging in, holding on for dear life. The one bed still left in my domain lies above a barn stone wall beneath a tree with my surveying rock. I would sit on my rock and smoke a secretive cigarette and hide out. Someone would call me from the porch—Barb, mom—and though I was not hidden I was invisible.

My other flower beds circling the house routed by renovations. The frog and lily pond sacrificed to a slow leak until the water became mud except for the ephemeral fill after a rain.

Last week I began pulling weeds and yesterday I went back for more. I started with the easy pulls beneath the tree hiding my lily-of-the-valley and columbine and sweet woodruff and arum italicum and poison ivy. I threw caution to the wind and pulled that irritant vine climbing towards the woodpecker hole from its grasp on the tree. I pulled up those small beginnings intermingling with the sweet woodruff. Years ago we pulled and cut the thick stem of poison ivy that had grown for years on the barn. We sprayed the weed killer in the news on the roots and on weeds around the property where we decided they didn’t belong. But now reports of cancer-causing ingredients. We scoff sometimes at those first reports of something that has become so commonplace. But it is not a natural remedy to weeds. I’ll just keep pulling. Who will win the war? I know I can win the battles but not the war.

My back and shoulder ached yesterday and straightening up is not immediate but a slower process. I left those strong back-breaking grasses for the next pull. They thought they found their forever home. Ha! They’re moving out.

On break, I drove the Gator to the barn. I stepped in as a black snake slide under some bird crates. I had killed a large black snake in that barn when I cleaned the corn stalks and hay from the barn sides. Even dead, my friend did not want to look at it. I feel guilty now for killing it. It was not venomous nor threatening me. Moving on, scanning the woods for plants and wildlife. The deer ran from me, showing only the graceful flashes of white as they disappeared. Each time I go into the woods, I hope to see the bear in the woods.

Later as I sat on my front porch talking to a friend, I watched the flits and flights of an indigo bunting and red birds and red-winged blackbirds that are tied inexplicably to summers on the family farm. I noticed an unidentified larger bird surveying from the telephone wire just as I survey from my rock.

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