Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Stony and the Ivy

The wind last night blew all the clouds away; when I woke up this morning it was to a brilliant yellow sun rising over the mountains, sending rays of bright yellow sunlight streaming through my window. However, it is windy again tonight, so I'm now wondering if the wind won't just blow away all this good weather, and tomorrow will be crummy again.

This morning I set out to the joyous task of weeding; after the rain yesterday the dandelions and such underneath the grape plants in the vineyard have shot up like, well, weeds. In attempts to keep the weeds off, Howard and Rosemarie have tried piling stones, black matting and stones, cardboard, black matting, and stones, and finally, their current scheme of cardboard, black matting, silver tarp, and stones. The black matting, which would normally work alone to keep the weeds from growing, breaks down under New Zealand's intense sunlight (carpet and drape manufactures in this country won't guarantee their products against bleaching and fading because the sun is too strong). My job was to weed the one remaining section that still had just stones (and therefore the most weeds), lay down cardboard, black matting, silver tarp, and then pile the stones on top again. Along the way I became friends with some very large beetles, which disturbed me because they can jump very high(!) and because I could hear their not-so-little legs clicking as they scuttled away from me across the silver tarp.

Another fun aspect of this task was hauling rocks around; realizing that I couldn't put the rocks I had removed from the dirt back onto the silver tarp (the idea is to use clean stones, so as to minimize the dirt and thus minimize the ability of new weeds to take hold), I had to take several loads of rocks to the end of the row, dump them in a pile to be washed, and then find another pile of previously washed rocks and cart them over to the vineyard in the wheelbarrow. Not to state the obvious, but rocks are heavy! Also, it's no fun to run a wheelbarrow laden with rocks over a ground strewn with large rocks; imagine trying to wheel a full wheelbarrow across a dry riverbed, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

After the midmorning break of muffins and tea, Rosemarie kindly assigned me a job in the shade (she and Howard both know about how easily I burn and don't want to turn me into a lobster): I was to cut around the trunks of several pine trees over in the corner by the woodshed, removing the heavy tendrils of ivy that have been growing there for the last thirty years or so. The last WWOOFers they had attacked the trees a little too voraciously, shall we say (Rosemarie's hope was I would use "intelligence rather than brute force"). My tools? A handsaw, pruners, and a crowbar. The crowbar and saw proved the most effective: I would saw into the ivy to define a section to be removed, and then prise it from the tree using the crowbar. I was amazed both at how thick the vines of ivy were, and also how little bark was left on the pine trees; the ivy had cannibalised everything, sending little tendrils into the bark, and leaving nothing but the inner bark intact; essentially, the ivy had become the tree's outer bark. The idea with removing a section all around the tree is to kill the ivy by starving it of water and nutrients. Seeing as this job required some strategising and allowed me to work in the shade, I was much happier. :-)

Lunch was "cheese and tomato toasties" as Howard called them, and after lunch I was free to do as I pleased; so while Howard and Rosemarie watched Warehouse 13, I cleaned the upstairs (my) bathroom. Yes, voluntarily. Well, it was more to save my sanity; the bathroom was filthy when I got here, and it was bothering me that I was showering and washing my face in a room full of hair and soap scum that didn't belong to me.

The rest of the afternoon I spent by paying my Visa bill and lamenting at how poor I'm getting (that seems to happen when one doesn't have a job), reading Dune (it's getting fascinating) and helping Howard fix computer problems (videos were playing with audio, but no picture; I told him to check if it worked in another browser besides Safari, and when he downloaded and installed Firefox it fixed the problem in the other browser). I also called my brother today; it's his birthday back home.

After dinner today I had a go at playing Rosemarie's electric piano; it's actually a synthesiser/sequencer as well, so Howard and I had a lot of fun messing with the settings, making it blare like a bagpipe and wheeze like an accordion, accompanied by funk and house beats, or playing jazz standards at 210 bpm. Sometimes it just feels good to be silly. :-)

I'm off to bed now; all the rock work today has made my back sore and I think lying down will be good for it. Night!


No comments:

Post a Comment