It Wants to Go Wild

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            Sitting half a world away thinking about my five acre farm on Lummi Island, it’s all pastoral perfection and seaside serenity.  But pulling into the driveway, after six months away, I see that nature has once again exerted her dominance over the place and I think our home could be in an episode of that television show that speculates how nature would undo man’s edifices in short order if we suddenly vanished from the earth.  My house already has a head start and during my first 48 hours at home, I shook my head several times and muttered Karen Blixen’s lament from Out of Africa, “Everytime I turn my back, it wants to go wild again.”  It does. 
The most noticeable effect of nature’s invasion is a solid sea of grass as high as and right up to the window sills.  We can’t even figure out where to jump in to begin forcing it back.  My sons had been working at it with a weed eater for a few days before we arrived and had barely cleared a swath to the door.  Of course, our Husqvana riding mower is no match for this type of tenacious growth and so it is perennially in the shop, which is a contributing factor to this whole thing getting out of hand to begin with.
  The garden berms and flagstone patio we have been working on developing over the past two summers are undetectable, also grown over with tall grass and big bruisers of invasive weeds that have taken advantage of a lightly supervised garden bed situation.  Trees and shrubs we planted late last summer, Japanese evergreens, miniature fruit trees,  and a couple of olives are either dead twigs or stumps that have been chewed to a nub by the deer.  What could deer possibly find palatable about pine trees?
The pump in our “good” well had already broken at Christmas and we weren’t able to get anyone to fix it during the holidays.  Since then, the house has been running off of the ancient hand dug well that the property came equipped with.  Did I mention the herd of cattle who live happy lives right uphill?  Fortunately, living in Kathmandu for five years built such bacterial resistance in us that we can live in these sorts of conditions without stomach disturbance. 
Then the boys broke the news to us that as they were running loads of laundry, the sewer began to back up into the showers, requiring, of course, every towel in the house to prevent damage to the floors.  Quick thinking.  But we came home to mounds of soaking wet laundry, sewer sludge in the bottom of the showers, and no water evacuation from the house.  It turned out to be a broken pipe where the house waste empties into the septic system, no doubt caused by winter freezing.  For the first two days, we couldn’t jump into large scale cleaning like dishes and laundry, took fun outdoor baths from 5 gallon buckets, and poor Allan spent many hours with his head stuck in our septic manhole.
So that’s what I mean: It’s an uphill battle.  But it’s our little square of paradise, even if we have to beat the natural world back with a whip and a chair.  Bit by bit, we will reexert our dominance and will once again project the illusion of an effortless island life.

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