The Ugly Bug Dance

Being a home owner means yard maintenance.  That’s not something I ever really appreciated while growing up in the suburbs.  That damn yard is a second job.  Want to go out on the weekend? Well hell son you better plan on doing some extra late evening weeding and mowing or the yard is gonna look like shit.

When we bought our first house the back yard was a mess. It had been terraced into garden beds but then ignored and left to run wild. Little did I know how wise the previous owners had been! The back fence was completely over grown with holly.  It turns out that half of my “grass” was actually chives. Which we didn’t find out until we mowed the first time.

When the mower hit that tallish green patch, slicing it down, it seriously felt like I’d been hit with tear gas just like back in Basic training. My eyes started watering profusely while screwing shut. My nose when into snot producing overdrive and I couldn’t spit fast enough to get the taste of burning sulfurous green onion out of my mouth. This scene tried to replay itself every time we mowed.  We took to wearing a mask and goggles just to get through that third of the yard.  Also chives are hard to get rid of. I’d pull them up only to find that by the next week new shoots were already thriving in the bare spot crowding out the grass seed I’d put down.  I finally resorted to Round Up to kill the entire back yard that fall and started over the next spring.

Clearing the back fence from the overgrown holly was another chore.  I thought the holly at the fence line was immune to the Round Up until I realized that what I was faced with was several very large holly trees that took up a good quarter of the neighbor’s yard.  The trunks were far enough away from the fence line that my chemical attack couldn’t reach them. I resorted to mechanical means of destruction and took hedge trimmers to the holly on my side of the fence until I could actually see the chain link.  The fence was only 4 foot high but we were guaranteed privacy because that holly tree created a wall of spiky leaved greenery at least 8 foot tall and 5 foot deep all along that back fence line. This deforestation of my property regained me 3 to 5 ft of back yard depth.

One evening after a wind storm that had lasted all day I stepped in to the back yard to see if we’d had any damage. Leaves and small branches were scattered about in my patchy grass.  Not bad. I was worried there would be worse considering the wind had been wicked with powerline down around the neighborhood.  Then I saw it.

At roughly chest height in the wall of holly that kept trying to eat my back fence there was what looked like a small birch branch poking out about a foot into my yard. Nothing else seemed amiss. I figured the wind must have tossed the little stick into my holly hedge from the side neighbor’s tall tree. I wandered up to it and gave it a tug, thinking to put it in the yard debris bin. It was no thicker than my pinky.

The hedge rustled.  Then the stick was suddenly slithering straight at me. I stumbled backward then fell to the side as the stick became a branch as big around as my wrist.  It kept sliding out of the hedge to become a limb as big as my thigh.  I scrambled backwards as the jagged end of the broken limb thumped into the ground where I had just been standing.

It turns out my side neighbor had lost a Large 12 foot limb off his tree during the wind storm. As it fell the wind had pushed it over causing it to settle precariously in the holly. Waiting for me. Plotting. Planning its revenge.  Well it missed impaling me but it had managed to drag several strange critters out of the holly and deposit them on me as I scrambled away. I didn’t notice them until I was getting up to brush myself off and something moved under my hand.  I am not ashamed to say I screamed like a little girl. I wiggled, shimmed and shook while stomping about, flinging my arms and slapping at my clothes while I dislodged and destroyed said critters.

My husband, made curious by my screams, ventured into the back yard. There he found me in the midst of my ugly bug dance. That was the day I gave up on the back yard.

I am pretty sure it was just as overgrown as I had found it the day we moved out.  I wish the new owners all the best with it.