Cutting down the last roses of summer

Where the Jerusalem artichokes used to grow

Where the Jerusalem artichokes used to grow

November 6 – When I heard that it was going to be a great day yesterday as far as the weather, I told Dale that I had several things in mind that needed doing. First was a couple loads of laundry which dried beautifully in the sun and wind. So who needs an indoor washer and dryer with November weather like this!

Being outside, it’s very odd now to see just about a complete blank in the back yard where the daylilies, Jerusalem artichokes, and Maximilian sunflowers used to be just a few days ago. Even worse is the other side of the barn where the main garden yielded such a good harvest this summer! In two short days, so much has disappeared. Since hope springs eternal, however, we look forward to winter’s being gone even before it gets here!

A pile of wild rose canes

A pile of wild rose canes

Next came the big job – cutting the wild rose bushes and sumac along part of the walking trail. Armed with the big blue tarp, pruning shears, and a big clippers, I was off to the scene. An old dark stocking cap protected my head very well, at least until I started cutting the tall canes and having the smaller ones stick in my hat or pull it right off. Work gloves were really necessary to protect my hands through the whole job.

Early on I decided to cut off the tops of the bushes before tackling the job of bending down to cut each thick cane. That way, I hoped I would not be caught by the really prickly thorny vines. Since I had not done that job last year, there were a number of thick dead canes, along with this year’s green growth that often would grow far above the ground and right into the trees. Sometimes as I pulled and yanked on the cane I had just cut, it would finally come loose, along with another two feet that I could not see at first because it had made a home for itself under the grass. Several times when I thought a big part of the bush would come loose, it didn’t, so I would pull harder, and harder, until I saw what the problem was. A wild grape vine with all of its arms outstretched grabbed on to as many rose bushes as it could handle, and left me just pulling and pulling, hoping I didn’t fall over!

Brush and young Osage Orange

Brush and young Osage Orange

As I worked, I took the canes and vines over to the big blue tarp. The piles of young sumac trees grew larger and larger as I cut them down, leaving the area free of vegetation except for buckbrush, wild blackberries, small oak or maple trees, and a few wild gooseberries. In the area where I first started to cut, there was a big hollow in the bank, leading down to the creek. As I stood at the top edge, trying to put the clippers far enough in to reach the rose bushes, I tried to be very careful so I wouldn’t fall face down into the ditch. When the area was cleared of roses and sumac, I stepped gingerly down into the hollow to finish off the cutting job, being very careful not to rub noses or hands with the new Osage orange tree, full of very sharp thorns.

Speaking of yesterday, I remember Guy Fawkes Day which was celebrated in Great Britain and most British countries (including Zimbabwe in Africa) when we lived there. Back in 1605, Guy was a part of the Gunpowder Plot. His job was to guard the explosives the other members had put under the House of Lords. When the plot failed, King James I survived, and people lit bonfires all around London. Later there was a public day of thanksgiving. By the 20th century Guy Fawkes Day (or Night, if you wish) was still celebrated with a bonfire and fireworks.

And that’s it for now. Enjoy your time outside, eat plenty of tomatoes, and take time to laugh every day! It’s good for the health! – CHRIS

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