Thursday, January 11, 2007

Limbs against Limbs

10 days of pruning, pruning, pruning and we are finally moving away from the Ruby-Pearl Orchard into the Kinu Orchard, bypassing the Waka Orchard for the moment. Despite our normally active lives, I am NOT physically prepared for the giant task of dealing with adult trees in 3 orchards! My hands, elbows, shoulders, neck and back are all beaten to a pulp. But the trees ARE looking better and, I am hoping, feeling better.

It's funny how I get completely involved in things. When in TV and radio, I was a total workaholic -- I had no other life, really. no hobbies or anything. When I'm loafing, I'm happy to just loaf. When traveling, I'm happy to devote my complete energies to traveling, absorbing new cultures, new sights. Well, right now, I'm just completely involved in pruning. I get up when the sun comes into the bedroom, have a cup of coffee, put on my work clothes and go out with my pruners, lopers and pruning saw. then I'll keep working, one tree at a time, until hunger makes me stop for some food, then back at it until the sun goes down. It's backbreaking work -- muscles I didn't know existed hurt. And the trees are tall so there's lots of balancing on ladders and limbs, straining your neck and shoulders. At the end of each day, it's all I can do to make dinner, crash out, then start all over again.

I am surprised at how I can be pruning for days and not be bored. I am also amazed at how I can be so single minded. Of course, after 10 days, I am completely spellbound again by the Ranch. After cutting a bunch of dead stuff off a tree, I'll rest my arm for a moment. It's then that I notice how delicate and lovely the new grass is. It's growing on the ground like baby hair. Neon green baby hair! So fragile looking and yet so powerful with the life force. And I smell the sweet air, look up at the still blue sky, watch the juvenile hawk return to his perch high up on the highest tree and sigh with the wonder of it all.

Big Dog who has never shared my spell, is cursing at the tree he's pruning. The twigs get in eyes, the limbs scratch us to smithereens.
"Damn you, f...er! Take that!"
He talks about "doing battle with the trees." It sounds like such a European concept! Man against Nature. As if we were here on earth to subdue the forces of nature. It's strange because if you talk to him, he's not of that mind at all! He loves the trees, supports ecological groups, believes that we are NOT here to subdue nature but here on our property, I guess he is King and the trees must obey his command. (I haven't talked to him about any of this -- pruning is a silent, solitary job and there is too much time to live inside your own head.)

Being a captive of this glorious land, I am as much in love with these trees as I am with the whole valley. So pruning is more an act of love than it is general maintenance. I talk to the trees, try to be gentle when pruning so that it hurts as little as possible. If I inadvertently make a bad cut that rips a bit of bark, I apologize.

Some gardeners believe you need to use a tree seal when pruning. It seals a cut and is supposed to prevent disease and keep pests out. Others believe that trees heal themselves. For now, I am going with the latter, gambling on the power of nature over man-made chemicals, but I talk gently to the trees so that they can heal faster. I feel privileged to be able to care for these trees. I just wish I had a 20-year old body!

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