Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clearing Out Dead Wood

These are the ratty, tatty, decades-old grape vines situated in a bizarrely inconvenient spot right by the side of the street. This picture was taken last February.

2_17_blog photos 014

I’d been planning to do something  about them for a couple years. They draped over a falling down, split-rail fence. The muscular vines pushed it down and started rambling out onto the asphalt. Cars gently dodged them. In the summer they were a mess; in the winter they looked like we stacked a bunch of yard shrek by the curb and no one ever came to take it away. And actual, edible grapes? Fuggetaboutit.

So I dove in last spring. After a few hours trying to “prune” those monsters, I swore I could hear their sarcastic laughter. I threw up my hands and retreated. Kindness and tidiness would not work. Nor would subtlety.

For a while the Great Grape Project went on the back burner. Soon they had sprouted. Too late to cut them back? Maybe. But I didn’t care. If they died, they died.

We hacked and chopped. Pulled the fence out with a chain. Hacked and chopped some more, until all there was left were four pathetic, stubby trunks.

They wept. With great vigor, the remaining wood sucked water up to feed plants that were no longer there. Liquid seeped from the cut ends, the tragic, futile drops shining in the sun before spattering to the ground below.

I averted my eyes when I walked by. Wondered what the neighbors thought of our plant cruelty. Chivvied K to help me pull the dead stumps out.

But then they stopped crying and started leafing out. Bit by bit, the grape vines renewed. All the fruit comes from new growth, and all the growth is now new.

070710 047

In keeping with the Seussian feel of our place, K designed and built three trellises. 

072110 007

The vines are healthier than ever, and now we have actual fruit! Only by getting rid of all that deadwood was that possible.

I’m trying to eliminate the dead wood in other parts of my life. The first pass on my office is done, but I still spend a little time every day decluttering, paring down, throwing away, cleaning out and revamping. As I do, I think about not only what physical objects to get rid of, but what habits and thought patterns might not be doing the job they used to.

And I’m thinking a lot about how technology fits into my life, what works, what doesn’t, what I’ve been doing because everyone does and what I’d like to give up. How much new growth might occur as a result of less time spent on the computer or in front of the television?

I’d love to hear where you’ve cut dead wood from your life only to discover new growth ensued.


  1. Wow, Cricket. A lot of metaphors in this post, some you pulled out and some I can infer. For my life. Spiritually as well as physically. I think the crying and weeping part is especially apt. I'm going through a major illness and I've been wondering why. Maybe God is cutting me back to a main trunk. And I cry. Then all that new growth, which in my life I'm just beginning to see, and fruit even. I look forward to the fruit in my life.

    Thanks for your sharing. I like the way you write. Often just reading your blog gives me a lift.

    God bless you


  2. Diana, thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot to me. I wish you the best as you navigate through this difficult time, and hope for an abundance of fruit in your future.