Trouble with the neighbors

I am not a fan of invasive anything.  I have hated English ivy since my dad made me, as a

Luther Burbank, 'Plant Wizard.' Also, father of vacant lot landscaping. Thanks for the Himalayan blackberries!

thirteen year-old, spend a summer pulling out our neighbor’s thirty-year patch of the stuff; a filthy, spider-y and yet somehow not hantavirus-y endeavor that I have yet to get over.  Himalayan blackberry and Mitigation Planners suck.  So does Scotch broom.  I remain suspicious of the great numbers of Californians who moved to the Northwest in the 1980’s and 90’s.

I also dislike crows.  I read once that there were 177,000 Eastern crows in Washington State in 1971, and over a million now.  I wish I could recall where I read that, but it stuck with me not because of the massive increase, but because someone had to count them: how would you know if you counted each bird, or just counted the same one 177,000 times?  Oh look! There’s a black one! (makes hash mark) Sounds exhausting.

I don’t like them because of their creepy hopping, their sort of fratty, look-at-me loudness, their habit of eating and displacing prettier, more useful birds, or the way they used to pick sticks and leaves off the trees in my old back yard and drop them on me.  I realize not everyone feels this way, which is probably because of their superior marketing plan; and I

Add Barred Owl

specifically dislike the Eastern crow, and not the smaller, less

Add it to your owl. Subtle, yes?

agressive Western crow.  Somehow, the invasive Barred Owl doesn’t fill me with the same feelings, possibly because they are in my clearing hunting rodent-y varmints, possibly because THEIR marketing plan is decidedly retro, and much subtler, possibly just because they are cool.  Which would you rather have in your backyard, a murder of crows or a parliament of owls?  Cacophanous hooliganism or a starched, tea-and-muskets colonialism…I thought so.

A thousand slugs and a thousand bracken ferns...there's got to be a way to turn this into a SYSTEM.

Most frequently, though, those things that we perceive as invasive are just annoying.  I have weeds, cleavers and sandwort most specifically, that are really just annuals that bother me.  They are weeds to me because in an area of anemic resources they hog water and nutrients where I am trying to cultivate other, more significant plants.  Bracken fern cannot really be called ‘invasive,’ as they are prevalent most everywhere in the temperate world; yet they can overpopulate disturbed sites, are also a resource hog, can allegedly even make the soil toxic…which is even worse for my clearing.  I remove these plants not because the plants are bad, they are just bad where they are.

The same can be said of the chewy and eaty creatures that populate my property. Deer and field mice, slugs, fuzzy little bunnies, and that most odious of all woodland animals, the vile and irredeemable Mountain Beaver.  If there were rodent-size nuclear devices I would turn their burrows into Pilchuck sculpture.  In the presence of enough food, most animals nibble or  browse and move on.  True beavers will cut down trees, but leave a lasting and tangible evidence of their busy-ness.  Mountain Beavers will ‘disappear’ plants from your landscape–and their preferred plants are those plants which other animals do NOT chew: fatsia, azalea, rhododendron, even small conifers.  They don’t eat them, either.  They pull them underground and line their many-chambered warrens with them.  And they eat poop.  Their own. You can look it up.

Mountain Beaver ‘Niwaki.’ Makes me feel all shooty and trappy.

But despite my deep enmity for them, even I will admit that the Mountain Beavers are just doing what Mountain Beavers have done ever since they lost their gills and immediately stopped evolving.  I know they were here before I was. In fact, it would not surprise me if the very first Mountain Beaver actually emerged from the  primordial ooze wetland that borders my property. It was my decision to plant that Thunderhead Black Pine in the front yard, same with the Fernleaf Full Moon Maple, now known simply as ‘stick,’ soon to be known as ‘hole.’ Geeze, those were expensive. Poo eater!  Did I mention Mountain Beavers are host to ‘the largest flea known to modern science?’  Someone needs to call a Parliament of owls to order.

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6 Responses to Trouble with the neighbors

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