Like most Americans, I
find it very relaxing on occasion to take time away from my regular
work to do something at which Iím not really competent.
Thatís why I havenít
been in the office too much lately, and why I have been out in
the back meadow on a tractor.
This is an annual
ritual. After it starts to frost regularly each year, I begin
bush-hogging the place. A bush-hog, for those of you from New
York, Los Angeles or Jupiter, is the term used for a large mower
pulled behind a farm tractor. With it, you can rid your property
of brush and weeds up to the thickness of your forearm.
Like most farm equipment, theyíre not especially safe, so you can
also rid your place of your forearms and other appendages if youíre
not careful, but thatís another story all together.
bush-hogs are used to keep pastures clear of brush, but here at
Exclamation Pointe, Iíve liberated all the open ground from actually
doing anything that benefits society.
What I keep the fields
clear for is to produce more wildflowers. After the frost, when
all the flowers have done their thing and gone to seed, I clean away
all the new sprouts of scrub oak, sassafras and persimmon lest they
become trees. In the process, this scatters the flower seeds and
mulches the earth.
I think that itís
truly a shame that everyone doesnít have a little spot of ground
that they can use for their own senseless passions. It gives me
a warm glow inside to know that all the neighboring ranchers must
surely think that Iíve lost my mind insofar as many of the species
that Iím trying to encourage are the same ones that they spend their
time and dollars trying to eradicate.
Take, for example,
Prickley Pear Cactus, which makes a gorgeous, lush yellow and red
flower. (You can see one at http://www.ozarkmountainimages.com/Wildflowers/PrickleyPear800.htm
) To me, the fact that itís also covered with blood-thirsty
spikes and spines that can actually deflate a truck tire, only adds to
the charm. Iíll never forget the look on my fatherís face
when he first saw the huge bed of them that Iíd planted in the front
yard. It was easy to tell that the sight of his own flesh and
blood cultivating and fertilizing a noxious weed that heíd spent the
last forty years laboriously ripping out of the ground with a
short-handled pick was a truth that he was not really ready to accept.
Besides the opportunity
it presents to annoy people, bush-hogging gives me a chance to be
outdoors when the weather is really nice doing something that at least
FEELS productive where thereís no heavy lifting involved.
Thereís a story
thatís often told locally (as though it were the truth) about the
city fellow who, on being told that he needs to get a bush-hog to
clean up his new property, confidently asks what sort of fence you
need to keep a bush-hog in.
Well, anyway, as I
say, everyone should have a little piece of ground on which to express
themselves. Thereís something satisfying about having a place
where things get done precisely the way you want them.