When we drove to our land for the first time, we were discouraged after having spent a day looking at clear-cut plots that had been misrepresented on marketing sites. It was hot, and we were tired. Then we stepped out of our car and a wonderful, cool breeze wafted up from the spring-fed creek. I was dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck and lots of accompanying shoulder pain, so I stayed at the car and hubby went for a walk down to the creek. The breeze never stopped and it was just so peaceful. Cool and peaceful. We came back later with BIL (my brother-in-law) and this time I joined them for a walk. The creek was (and still is) incredible and the pines give way to hardwoods as you approach the creek. I was in love! Then came the part of the walk with the brambles, and the love-hate relationship began!
I love the land even more now that we are 18 months into making it our retirement home, but my love-hate for all things thorny continues! I love the plethora of wild blackberries, but I hate the thorns. Even the dead stems from previous years have thorns; sometimes they seem to be worse than the ones on the live plants. The blackberries are growing even better now that we have had the trees thinned and they get more light. Thankfully we can see the canopies of the pine trees growing too, so there’ll be more shade in a year or two and maybe the blackberries will become manageable! From what I read a few nights ago, they are pretty much indestructible, so manageable is all I’m aiming for right now!
Another even thornier plant that loves to wrap itself around my ankles is sensitive briar (Mimosa pudica). It’s called that because its leaves fold up when touched. They are so delicate looking and the flowers are beautiful, but the thorns are anything but delicate. Regardless of how I feel about how insensitive this plant can be to my skin, bees of all kinds love it. I saw honey and bumble bees with full pollen sacs on the flowers yesterday. The plant is considered invasive, so I feel less guilty about weed-eating a bunch of it today!
I love being surrounded by all this greenery, but it’s another love-hate relationship for reasons besides thorny things. Hubby cleared a beautiful trail down to the creek last fall, but the trail disappeared into a field of weeds taller than I am in just a few weeks this spring! I just spent over an hour weed-eating my way back to the spring. From that point on, we’re in hardwoods and the weeds and thorns are minimal. The work was well worth it as the dog had so much fun playing in the creek and I had so much fun watching her! Of course, the water is so cold that it’s always a pleasant break from the heat of the day to just sit close to it. I cut the trail a little wider than last time — not that that will make a difference because most of the weeds will grow back up and only a few vines will encroach from the sides. Still, the image of the huge rattlesnake we saw our first November here remains with me, and I do like being able to see what’s on either side of a trail we’re walking!
My last love-hate is Georgia clay! It’s so hard to dig into — it can be like concrete when it’s dry. Then when it rains, it’s a gooey mess that sticks to your boots until it pulls them off your feet. When we dug the trenches for the water lines, some parts of the clay smelled like dirty baby diapers. BUT, unlike the pure sand we have at the house in the city, when I water the soil here, it stays damp for a while. Most of the cuttings I’ve brought down here are doing so much better than their parent plants. Both sand and clay can become good growing soil with enough organic matter mixed in, which is one of the reasons we’re avid composters. Still, all the country songs about Georgia clay make me smile, so I know that I really do love this patch of clay and granite despite all the pink stains that clay leaves in socks and on floors!
Nothing is perfect, but there is also good in just about everything. I’m bruised and scratched after my week of working out here, but I am so at peace. When it’s too hot to work, I read for pleasure (Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer or Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews, depending on my mood at the time) or I take a nap. I’ve checked 18 bee hives and worn the blades off the weed-eater. Despite my love-hate relationship with some elements of the farm, I love everything about actually living here!