[Tweeters] My Trail of Tears

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Jan 2 20:03:53 PST 2017

Well, it was a cold day at Oak Bay (south of Indian and Marrowstone Islands) today. I was back to work removing Himalayan Blackberry's from a slope above the beach. Back to my Trail of Tears.

Yes, as I remove these thorny things from the edge of the woods, things can get a bit tearful. The other day it was tears in my wrist, leaking blood. This morning I noticed tears in my pants, which was too bad because it foiled my heating plan. You see, I had a big breakfast of beans at the Two Room Ranch this morning and I figured that with my pants tucked into my boots that I might warm up my legs with natural gas later on, but the tears in my jeans ruined that - all the warm air leaked out. Luckily no one else was around experience this wardrobe failure. I guess with ideas like this it's no surprise I usually work alone.

Well, moving right along, I wasn't really alone because I was joined by a Pacific Wren again as I worked. For romantic reasons I hoped it was the same wren that snoopervised my work the other day for several hours, but they are sorta hard to tell apart. Today's wren didn't stick around too long - probably a little too frozen on the ground for bugs.

With the north wind kicking up a bit my eyes did tear up a bit in the cold - I wasn't crying about thorny tears in my pants. I may have in times past when experiencing deep tears in my hide as I encountered various stickers while pruning, or bushwhacking. Wanna get hurt? English Hawthorne works pretty good, yet my favorite is the Evergreen Barberry - a beautiful garden shrub with a mean streak. I used to prune a big hedge of the stuff years ago. This barberry features needle-like thorns in clusters of 3, which will penetrate right thru leather gloves, or boots. Big ouches all around.

Listen to me whine. Whenever I get into my local thorny dilemmas , I think of New Mexico - land of thorns. I'm gonna visit my sister and brother-in-law down there at the end of the month where they live near the small SW New Mexico town of Puncture Junction. Actually it's just a crossroads- nothing there except an unusually large tire repair station.

SW New Mexico has something to puncture just about anything, including car and truck tires. A large percentage of the plant species down there are armed to the teeth. There must be a certain portion of your brain that is used for spatial recognition and it'll get a good workout in the desert, because you don't want to get very close to all sorts of vegetation. Not a good place to be bumping into things. And watch where you sit too.

At least one bird famously utilizes one of the thorniest plants of them all - the cholla cactus- as a nest site: that bird, the Curve-billed Thrasher, builds it's nest right in the branches of the horribly spiny thing. Nuthin' is gonna get into that nest. Sometimes the young don't make it out of the cholla either - I saw a photo of a young thrasher carcass stuck in thorns near a nest. I guess this is the plants way of removing the klutz gene from the thrasher gene pool. All I know is: not gonna touch one.

Back to cold and clammy Oak Bay, where I admired the little Pacific Wren's ability to blithely navigate right through the middle of the blackberry patch - not a trail of tears for the wren - sometimes it's nice to be small.

Jeff Gibson

reporting from

Jefferson Co. Wa

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