[Tweeters] Something's Gotta Give

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Jul 27 15:49:31 PDT 2013

Doing a lot of non-intellectual gardening chores these days, my mind is free to wander through the great issues of life as I work.

Recently I was hired to destroy a great big Red Elderberry. Actually, I'd planted the shrub myself a few years ago - trying to do the right thing you know, providing food for wildlife and all that. Well, it was a booming vegetable success, growing about 15 ft tall and about as wide in just a few years. I thought it was great, however the "property owner" (AKA the guy giving me money to cut it down) thought otherwise. I did the evil deed and pocketed the money. Is that just wrong? "Well" I thought, in self-justification mode, " there's plenty more where that one came from!". That's true, but maybe I'm just another sell-out capitalist hoser? I must get some credit for planting it I like to think.

It is true that the elder was horning in on the territory of a more valuable (ie: expensive) plant. I could've just cut the elder back some, but, oh no, compromise was out of the question! Oh well. Just follow the money, honey.

However, it did remind me that in nature, something's always got to give. Maybe you've noticed this yourself, walking around, in what is popularly known as, "outside". A while ago I posted about being a "maple mercenary" on another garden job in Everett, where I removed hundreds of little 3" tall Big -leaf Maple seedlings that carpeted the ground I was about to plant with other stuff. Rob Sandelin emailed me back, with one of his always interesting notes, that he had found that Deer Mice ate a lot of these little maple seedlings in his neck of the woods.

And that's a good thing, I thought, because otherwise we might be living in a dog-hair grove of overachieving maples, and not much else. Inspired by his note, I tried eating a little maple myself, but I found the first set of 'adult' leaves a bit too fuzzy for my taste.( I'm thinking they might be good with just the first cotyledons out).

Anyway, that reminded me of some other professional landscape gardeners, on the Olympic Peninsula; the Roosevelt Elk.

I remember on visits to the Hoh Rainforest,many moons ago, that there were these fenced-in enclosures that kept the Elk out. Unlike the neat-looking rainforest outside of the fence, inside was a dense growth of shrubbery that was about 10ft tall and inpenatrable. The whole teaching moment, a good one I thought, was how the Elk (and deer I suppose get credit) kept the rainforest looking all picturesque like you're used to seeing it.

I always envisioned that process as a sedate and sensitive clipping of ferns and shrubbery by a few scattered mammals. But years later, driving up the North Fork of the Quinault River one hot summer day, we came across a patch of forest along the road that looked like it had thrashed by about 50 people with power brush-cutters. The dust was still rising, and the steam still coming off the Elk plop, which was the evidence, along with many tracks, that a herd of elk just passed through. They trashed the place!

But you know later, it's gonna look real good.

So the whole world is growing, and Earth ain't getting any bigger. Something's gotta give, and always has. Plants, animals - the whole enchilada. Hominids included.

I asked Mother Nature what she thought about our new Guilded Age and all this economy stuff.

"Economy! Economy!, I don't want to hear that economy jive honey! I'll tell you what the economy is - it's the Habitat, stupid! If one of your good ol' boys did'n t say that yet, he should! Get real!"

Jeff Gibson
Creating and destroying, in
Everett Wa

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