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.
Oh no. You are good for another 100 years, certainly.
Yeah, that sounds like a curse to me. Longevity without youth to go with it is basically rotting in place.
alright minimaderly, I'm stealing that line. i've got a friend who is so consumed by living to be 140 that he basically eats nothing but small amounts of pea protein and spends his waking hours working and exercising. i admit he looks fantastic for his age and has only about 3 per cent body fat where i look 90 and have 33 percent body fat, but we're the same age and we're both gonna die old because we are old. difference is i'm enjoying the ride. he's too busy to have any fun at all. sorry about the one fingered typing. hefty the 22 lb cat is lying on my right hand and he won't give it back.
You got that right! The only thing I fear more than death is “everlasting” life.
We also have pebble pathways lined with rocks along the paths in our yard! Every decade or so, we have to get a load or two or fresh pebbles to add to it. Since we have no lawn (I ruthlessly suffocated it with newspaper and cardboard decades ago.), we needed a way to walk between the trees, shrubs, plants, and groundcovers without having something that needed mowing. We both tried mowing at first, and absolutely hated it, and as we didn't have ruminants to eat it, it had to go. Digging a pond in a naturally low-lying area and adding a deck to the back helped take the place of lawn. It's not zero-maintenance, but it is close.
Pebbly pebbles? We do quarter-inch-minus crushed gravel so it packs down. I also have no lawn, but I can't say anything here is low-maintenance.
Oh, there is always maintenance! But as long as I keep the front yard fairly presentable, I dinna fash myself about what's behind the fence. After a certain point, the mosquitoes get to me and I find it difficult to even take out the trash without getting a shitload of bites. I don't know WHY they love me so much; despite my husband's claims, I am NOT sweet. In fact, I curse like a fuckin' sailor.
mimanderly: "dinna fash" yourself?!? Are you a Terry Pratchett fan? Or perhaps Scottish? I love that expression.
Or perhaps Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? Jamie says that frequently.
Outlander for the win! I just love that expression.
Maybe the root was just the equivalent of a grape hangnail and it's a happier vine now.
I will say it doesn't seem to have sapped its spirit at all.
I'll bet all the good flavors were being diverted to keep the Root alive. Come harvest time next year, we'll see if my hypothesis, which is informed by my knowledge of growing tomatoes, is inspired or bullshit. I'm guessing the latter, but do let me know.
Shoot, there ought to be grapes on it by now, but I don't see any. Of course I've been whacking it back all season so it's a lollipop tree, since there is no longer a trellis.
You've been whacking it back in the "off" season, it will hibernate now until your next spring when you'll likely get more grapes than the birds can eat.
The birds don't eat them either. There will be a flock of starlings that swarm over it once they've fermented on the vine, and then they wobble up to the power lines and tip over and burp, I swear to God.
I suspect I would have left the root for the same reasons you did. I find myself hoping that the grape does what the gorgeous wisteria my father planted did. After my parents died and the house was sold the wisteria remained. For two changes of home owner. Then the house was razed and a McMansion replaced it. The wisteria was replaced with a driveway. Driving past nearly a year later we noticed that the driveway had cracked and tendrils of wiseria were making a triumphant return.
As I was reading your comment, I was thinking "you can't kill a wisteria." Driveway cracking! That is satisfying.
We have a wisteria that grows up and onto the top of an arbor over our deck. It is also TRYING to grow everyplace else in our yard, and possibly in our neighbors' yards. I don't dare ask. It's a beautiful nuisance though.
"..a beautiful nuisance though."
An epitaph for RBG between the lines there.
You go, Wisteria!!! We really don't need any more fucking McMansions!
Lordie, the house across the street from us in Tyler Texas in the early 70s was SO covered in wisteria that they couldn't open/even see the front door. They took an ax to the vine creeping over the back door every Spring. I swear that stuff is alien. You could have evaporated that 1900-era red brick house out from under that tangle of vine and no one would have been the wiser. What house? But it was *spectacular* when it bloomed. (The cat was annoyed that I was moving. Most unsatisfactory. He sought a more hospitable surface to sleep on.)
Across the street isn't always far enough, huh?
Yay Mother Nature, a Wisteria cracking the Driveway of a McManse is sweet Justice for razing a beautiful Old Home and trying to kill a magnificent Wisteria specimen!
The Confederate monument paragraph made me laugh out loud.
It was a shitty-ass paragraph though.
Since you've already hacked it out, my suggestion to build a little bridge over it is useless, but I am impressed at the vintage. 105 years and still going strong. Like the ancient wine grapevines in other parts of the world. and now I'm thinking I might plant a little grape vine. Even if I only get a few grapes each summer they'll still be grapes I don't have to buy in a supermarket where the bags are open and anybody can stick their fingers into them.
I have a purple Concord that bears heavily and it was a four-inch stick not that many years ago.
I envy you have a 105 year old Grapevine on your property even if it does produce shitty Grapes but kick Ass Wine! I hope the removal of the enormous Root does it no harm, I'm not sure I want anyone to take a Hatchet to me when I turn 105, I'm still opting to Die in my Sleep, preferably.
You can die in your sleep by hatchet. Preferred method, actually.
Maybe you know some crafty person who would be happy to make something with that venerable old root. I dont know, candlesticks, a set of shotglasses, a support for a favorite vining houseplant, there are many possibilities.