I’m not very good at maintenance.  I tend to let things go on for way longer than I should, watching the situation thinking, I need to take care of that…I need to take care of that.  Then once I’ve watched it for way too long, I’ll attend to it.  Good example- cars.  I let time between oil changes go much longer than I should.  Another is haircuts.  I let my hair grow until it’s so raggedy that I can’t stand it one more minute.  When he was younger my son’s hair grew down to his shoulders – that was his look for years – one of the reasons is I just wanted to see how long he’d let it get.  My family could barely stand it…but funny, it became his signature look, and everyone at school adored it.

But this post is about vines and suckers and cutting away.  There’s a tree in the back that we planted last year that amazingly has survived me.  Again, I’m not the best at maintaining…and right after planting, a passion vine started growing right up next to it, using the little tree as a trellis.   I’ve got passion vine in other places in the yard, and sometimes out of no where it’ll sprout up in the middle of the yard, in the lawn.  The underground root system is extensive and everywhere.  And if you know anything about passionvine you know it’s like a weed, grows anywhere and although beautiful will take over anything and is impossible to kill.  Pull it out and it just pops up again somewhere else, or again and again in the same spot.

So although I knew this, and that I would have to at some point cut it away, I let it grow.  It grows FAST, and took over the tree in no time.  It bloomed and was beautiful, with Gulf Fritillary butterflies flying around it constantly (they lay their eggs on the vine and when the caterpillars hatch the vines sustain them).  Lovely.  But the whole time I knew it would get to the point of cutting back.  A few nights ago while I was watering that poor little tree was almost doubled over, touching the ground due to the weight of the water and the vines.  So, the time had come.

 

With clippers in hand, yesterday evening I started in on my task.  Clip Clip Clip.  Vines falling everywhere, I felt like Edward Scissorhands in the scenes where he’s clipping the dogs and hair is flying everywhere.  As I cut I wondered, what would happen to my little tree now?  Had it thrived BECAUSE of the vines, or in spite of them?  The vines hold on by putting out tendrils that wrap around anything and everything.  These tendrils had wrapped branches together tightly and were forcing the tree to grow sideways.  As they grow older they get hard and leathery, and are strong as wire.  As I cut I could see the damage these beautiful vines were doing to my poor little tree.  I started to see that they (when I got in closer and deeper) were actually stunting it and choking it.  As I cut and vines fell the tree started to stand up a little straighter and I had to pull some branches apart that had become intertwined.  As I did this, thinking about strength and suckers, a large part of the tree snapped off in my hand.  Great.

 

I looked down at it in my hand and was amazed.  One of those older tendrils had attached itself to one of the main trunks of the tree and as the tree grew, the tendril squeezed it, creating a bulge on either side.  This had caused the weak point where the tree gave when pulled.  So looking at it from this perspective, if I hadn’t cut the vines away, it would have suffocated the little tree.  As I cut I wondered, how many times in my own life had I let something go too far before maintaining it?  How many times had I been the tree?  OR, more uncomfortably, the tendril?  If you made it this far into the post, this is the key.  What do you need to maintain?  Clean up, or give attention to today?  The lesson for me in this little tree is this:  maintain along the way.  This is being shown to me again and again this week.  Don’t let it go and let it go, what is suffering because of lack of maintenance?  These are my thoughts today…It’s ok to get rid of the suckers.  Or not to let them in in the first place.  Sometimes it’s one or the other.  And of course, Maintain.

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