A Rose is a Rose… Unless it’s a Water Primrose

September 2 – Water primrose again! Seems as if our life for the last few days has been centered on that particular weed that fills the area all around the edges of the pond. I thought that Dale had made the funny hand fork that he has been using to drag out the primroses, but he said he thinks it was out in the barn when we moved here back in 1998. (By the way, it was 17 years ago yesterday on September 1 that we arrived here in Missouri after our trip out from Pennsylvania!) We have never been sorry for that move as we are so happy to have so many friends in the area, along with our family.)

Dale's handy rake

Dale’s handy rake

Back to the rake. Somebody needed some kind of tool to reach way up to pick nuts high up in the trees, so took the hand fork that was made to scratch around in the dirt in the garden, put it at the top of a long bamboo pole, and then stuck it on with lots of tape and a metal clamp. Through the years, Dale has used this tool to pick fruits like Asian pears, apples, and chestnuts. I don’t know where he came up with the idea of using it to reach way out in the pond to yank in so much of that tangled-up primrose that seems to be attached to everything around or below it. I do know, however, that he has become quite adept at pulling in piles of it and dropping it down on the area about three feet back from the water’s edge.

I tried to help! I really did, but I couldn’t get that rake to work for me at all. When I thought I had caught a bunch of it, I pulled in the rake, only to find that the plants were no longer clinging to the rake, but bit by bit fell back into the water. Then I tried a real garden rake, but that didn’t work either. Finally, feeling pretty sad because I couldn’t help Dale do that yucky job, I decided to climb down right to the edge of the pond where the mud was pretty sticky and black. There was enough room for me to walk, but quite carefully so I wouldn’t slip into the pond. I would pull out the primroses with my hands. Well, not bare hands! For a change I decided to put on a pair of garden gloves to protect them.

Chris pulling out a water primrose or two

Chris pulling out a water primrose or two

Well, great! So I couldn’t get any good results with the rakes, but I did manage to yank out the yellow flowered plants which so much enjoyed hanging on to each other as they intertwined. I didn’t get as many plants out of the pond as Dale did, but I was feeling pretty proud of myself for having come up with a plan that allowed me to work too so he wouldn’t have to do the whole job.

I did get shaken up a bit at one place along the pond when I stepped backwards to reach for a vine that had fallen from my hands. I can still hear that strange sound when my shoe slipped a bit too far from the bank, and I couldn’t move forward enough to pull it out. Nothing to hold onto either, so I just tried to move forward a bit at a time. Gradually, my shoe did come out of the muddy hole, and I could start all over again in the next section. Dale did fall twice, but fortunately right into a huge pile of weeds and vines I had pulled out already.  He was just trying to get some very high ones out of the willow tree that I couldn’t reach!

Of course, Dale’s piles of primroses were bigger than mine, but he had a rake to use while I had to rely on my hands! When we quit the job until the next day, it seemed as if my hands were about twice as heavy as they should be. No wonder! My gloves were completely covered with mud, so much so, that they were actually slippery, and I couldn’t scrape off the mud.

Muddy gloves

Muddy gloves

As we went back to the house, I saw the big blue rain barrel Dale keeps full of water to use on his garden plants. “Why not?” I thought. Sure, why not, so into the barrel I tossed the once-off-white garden gloves. They were so muddy the water turned darkish, and I couldn’t see the gloves at all. Later, with a long bamboo stick that would reach to the bottom, I poked around until I thought I could feel something other than water. As I carefully pulled the stick towards the top, I found one glove. After a little more work, I had the other. Those gloves needed a lot more than a bath in the rain barrel to turn white again. In fact, they probably will never do so, and they are so stiff that I can hardly get them on. Guess I will just have to toss them and figure that they did their duty back there along the pond.

Unfortunately, like the muskrat tunnels, and the mole uprisings along our pasture paths, the primrose will go on forever. Suppose we could use some chemical to get rid of them, but then the fish would be gone too, so we will just have to go through this job once again in a year or two when those plants have made themselves at home once more. – CHRIS

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