Last week I remodeled my back yard
For fifty years, the Century Plant lived and grew. It was big and green and beautiful. Every decade or so, it produced a lovely white blossom. It witnessed the overnight campouts of my two young sons, just little guys then. It thrived next to a California style hot tub, scene of social gatherings and solo soaking. In the 1990s, hot tub maintenance became burdensome and I had the redwood barrel removed. My Century Plant soldiered on. Though it flowered rarely, the plant held court constantly. In the 1970s and early 1980s, it was surrounded by grass. Up until 2000, year of New Mexico’s devastating bark beetle invasion, it was neighbor to a forest of piñons.
Then, a harbinger of losses to come, the backyard piñon trees died. First one, then another, and finally 70 of them. Everywhere in my two acres. It happened not just to me but to all of Northern New Mexico. Because of ongoing drought, the trees’ immune systems were wrecked. The beetle larvae, always present within the trees, came alive, fed on the trees, going voraciously from one piñon to another. The bug came to be called “a wildfire on six legs.”
With the help of my helper, Julian, the Century Plant was removed. Its roots went deep into the earth and it took my very strong gardener nearly an hour to dig and saw his way to the depths of the plant’s reach. To our delight, there was a new fledgling plant underneath the spikes of the old. Julian created a “rock pond” where the parent Century Plant had resided. Junior, as we named the offspring, displays himself proudly at the edge. Little things can mean a lot.
Why is this such a big deal? Today’s world is changing with increasing velocity. Problems such as climate change, war, famine, abortion rights, inequality and a host of ills. It can all be too much. Personally, I contribute what I can to help the world. After that, I narrow the lens. My goal: make improvements in the personal sphere. In with the new!
Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on the writing, hiking and the outdoors, Santa Fe life, and the world as seen through adoption-colored glasses. Check out her newest novel The Hand of Ganesh. Follow adoptees Clara Jordan and Dottie Benet in their quest to find Dottie’s birthparents. Order today from Amazon or http://www.pocolpress.com. And thanks for reading!