Yesterday I talked about clearing brush and making a fire. Today let’s talk about what I cleared, because it wasn’t just brush.
I didn’t realize trees could get covered with vines. Someone called them “bittersweet” but I can’t imagine that’s what these are. They climb. They make yellow/orange berries, and they look lovely, but they climb and twist, and I decided to pull them off my trees.
For one thing, when I look at my trees, I want to see trees, not trees covered with vines.
But for the more important thing, I can’t imagine this is good for the trees. The sheer weight of these vines has to be awful for them. So when I grabbed the clippers and began clearing my woods, I went after the vines first.
The Bible compares people to vines all the time. Israel is a vineyard; Christians are vines. Jesus is the vine. All of that. I always thought of vines as a good thing, due to the Bible’s view of them as good. Grape vines, for example. Who could object?
Well, now I can. Because this is what I found:
1) vines girdling trees. These vines would grow up the side of a tree, curling around it and strangling it, until the bark was deeply indented with the vine and they were so tightly interwound that I could barely get it clipped.
2) vines toppling trees with their weight
3) vines strangling trees so much that sometimes I would find a dead tree standing, held upright only by the still-living vine.
These vines weren’t soft, flexible and green, either. After a few years, they seem to become just as woody as the trees they’re strangling.
It didn’t hurt the old trees as much as the young ones. The little trees hadn’t a prayer against the faster-growing, leafier and weightier vines.
I would clip them at their base and then try to yank them down from the tree. Sometimes it worked, and I’d end up dragging forty pounds of vine out to the driveway. And sometimes they’d be so knotted up in the tree that I’d just leave the severed vine hanging there, waiting to figure out it was really dead.
The trees have to be better off with that weight gone. Without something strangling off their nutrients and girdling their growth.
Really, those vines are like sin. When I pulled one down, I imagined my guardian angel pulling the sin off my soul and getting me to repent, and how free I’d feel, just like a tree with a vine pulled free so the sunlight could strike its leaves again and its trunk could stand straight.
But also, I realized how a tree carrying that weight in vines is like me when I’m overfunctioning. And yeah, the vine is pretty and maybe it deserves to live, but not when all it’s doing is adding weight and depriving the tree — or the overfunctioner — of sunlight and nutrients and strength and the ability to grow straight and tall.
I cut down every vine I could find. Every one of them. My trees are helpless, and I came along and cut off their evil assailant at the base, and I think I did my trees a favor.