How To Rescue a Raspberry Bush

It’s 10:38, people. It’s March 17th. My taxes are still not filed. So here I sit, in my smells-of-livestock basement, with my laptop on my lap, my adding machine to my left, and my dayplanner to my right, and a pencil tucked behind my ear. I’m trying to calculate my mileage deduction for my federal taxes. I SHOULD be drinking green beer somewhere. Instead I’m here, freezing my ass off, inhaling the stench of chicken butts from 40 years ago, and adding 2.4, 5.6, 16.0 and so on. Yeah, I know. The cobbler’s kids have no shoes, the tailor’s wearing rags… and this bookkeeper’s books aren’t kept. And so it is.

Lucky for me, CLH is down here too, playing me the latest Cloud Cult album, his head hidden behind his gargantuan monitor. He’s working. I’m working. Ah, quality time together.

This weekend, we went out to the back 40 and unearthed our raspberry bushes. This past fall, I went out there and cut the nearly hollow (read: old as hell) vines down to the ground, hoping they would make their reappearance this Spring. Well, Spring has been coming, slowly, and the vines are starting to grow. It’s a bit tough for them, having to compete with waist-high grass and all. CLH and I got down on our hands and knees and ripped that grass out with our bare hands around the bases of the vines so the poor things could breathe. We couldn’t use any tools to get between the plants because they are so close together and the vines so delicate. We played this game with the lawnmower afterwards. It went a little like this: we’d find a place where the grass was so tall, it was bent over and growing horizontally (you could pick out these spots because the ground would feel spongy and creepy underneath you). One of us would “comb” the grass in the opposite direction it was laying and the other would run the push mower over it. We repeated this for nearly an hour and cleared a spot about 6 feet square. Seriously. Our backyard is a lot like the Secret Garden. You have no idea what’s growing out there. The former owners’ mental state is the subject of much debate in our household. Sometimes, when we do things like mow the same spot of 3 foot grass for 15 minutes, we ask ourselves: Was it madness, laziness, or a combo of both that would make someone let their grass get tall enough to swallow a small dog?