I’ve had rock-lined gravel paths in my garden going on thirty-plus years now and they’ve held up pretty well, but what with one thing and a roofer, a painter, a toppled tree, a fence-builder, and another, things have gotten a little wonky. I finally bit the bullet and decided to rebuild the whole thing from scratch. And change the trajectory as long as I’m at it. We took down the grape trellis Dave built a thousand years ago since there was nothing holding it up but possum pee and a conspiracy of mosses. Now I think I’ll narrow the path where the trellis used to be and get some more garden space. So. What to do with the Root?
The Root was a conundrum to begin with. We have a Root that travels along the surface of the ground and, for about three feet, above it. It’s a good three inches in diameter. It’s clear it belongs to the grapevine. It disappears underground near the base of the vine and the other end looks to be underneath our house. I don’t know what good it is doing anybody in there. And it’s kind of in the way of my proposed path.
The first go-round I let it live. I really didn’t want to endanger the grapevine. Not so much because we like the grapes: they’re shitty grapes. Nobody eats more than one or two. Once we had a neighbor from the Ukraine who was tickled to harvest our grapes for shampanskoye. One afternoon he called Dave to come over and try his hooch. It was pink and bubbly. Very very bubbly. They’d been into it for a while when I came riding up on my bicycle and they hailed me over. Two things happened in short succession. Veniamen popped the cork on a fresh bottle and it blew its contents straight across the street without getting a drop on the pavement. And he opened another and got some of it into a glass for me, I downed it, got back on my bike, and tipped over into the shrubbery. Dave and Veniamen peed their pants laughing.
It’s all still so fresh.
No, the reason I want the grapevine is its antiquity. I think if something’s been around for a long time it deserves to live out its life. And this grape is old. I even know how old, because early on, a thin papery old lady came teetering by and told us the story of how her father built our house. And that he planted the grapevine in 1915. That’s an old grape.
Way older, for instance, than those cheesy Confederate monuments that shitty people erected to commemorate the shittiest aspects of their shitty-ass heritage. And some people think those should be preserved, whereas my grape has done nothing wrong, giving up the same stupid grapes to one and all.
But the Root is really in the way of things. And the way I plan to route the path, it’s liable to trip somebody some day. I’m not the kind of person who worries about liability that much, except it’s liable to be me. And there’s something different about the Root Conundrum now from the Root Conundrum of 1985: Google exists.
In short order I discovered grape roots run sparse and deep and whatever my Root is doing on the surface might not be that important to the plant. I got the mattock and whacked it out. If the grape keels over, well, it’s had a good run. When I turn 105, you have my permission to take a hatchet to me, too.