Monday, October 5, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There

I often reflect when outdoors that the natural world is a savage place. I live out in the country and am blessed with lots of outdoors immediately at hand. I also teach an animal class, where we spend some time talking about survival, and watching one species make dinner out of another. Animals eating animals is part of the cycle of life. However, it is more vicious than that! Plants are dog-eat-dog viciousness in slo-mo. I often imagine Virginia Creeper vines slowly wending their way up a tree, preparing to block out the sun and choke the life out of its hapless victim that is this moment giving it a leg up. Weeds sprout up and devour all the space, water, and nutrients in sight. There is crowding and pushing and rough play everywhere you look.

When you think about it, a well-tended garden is like someone enforcing discipline and civility on plants. "OK. Tomatoes, stay in your cage. We're going to prune you up so you make some really nice fruit. Weeds, you weren't invited. Vamoose! Beets--we have a quota here. Only 25 plants per row. The rest of you are going to get thinned out. Sorry, we can't accommodate all of you. I gave you beans some nice poles to climb on. Use them and quit wandering into other plants' personal space. Now here's a nice blanket of mulch. It'll keep you cool and moist and slow down those weedy marauders."

Of course, if you wander far from the carefully maintained garden, you're back in the survival-of-the-fittest battle. There's more to watch out for in the jungle than jaguars. If you stand still long enough, a plant just might throttle you.

1 comment:

L. H. Lynch said...

Nice garden analogy.