All Things Brambly…

After having our land cleared everything was laid bare as if a giant with a massive machete had hacked off the boughs and limbs of the wilderness, chopped it all up and scattered it through what I now call The Thousand Acre Woods.


We had a cold snap when I could hardly keep warm inside the house let alone brave the frost and bitter winds to work outside on clearing up.

Wild honeysuckle and thorny ivy took advantage of my reluctance and dormant trees, quickly sprouting and covering the otherwise bleak landscape with bright green undertones.

During January I developed cabin fever.

I don’t think I’ve ever suffered from cabin fever before.

I had no writing inspiration,

The old family photos I was gathering into an album were not co-operating in size,

A book I was waiting for en-route from England was taking its time

I didn’t feel like cooking or making soups,

All I wanted to do was snuggle in bed for the day under my electric blanket.

I played ‘feather’ with the cat and laughed at her gravity defying moves,

I searched the house looking for anything to wash or clean,

I muttered to myself,

I turned my attention to friends and family,

The Lenten season and church.

Finally, just before inflicting damage to my hair by pulling it out, I caught the sun shining weakly through the clouds.

I bundled up, donned my wellies and drew on my heavy leather gloves,

And off I trudged to do battle.

Armed with a hand-held hedge clipper I plunged into the matted woods


to dis-entangle the trunks and tops of my lovely trees from the stranglehold of ivy and thorny vines.


First off I had to snip the anchor roots at the base of the trees.  There were hundreds of them and my back began to complain.

I persevered moving from copse to copse, clipping, pulling, unravelling, releasing and piling.

I bruised my arms and my pecs ached from tugging on the stubborn vines entwined in the branches meters above my head.  I felt both like a campanologist and, when my feet briefly left the ground, Tarzan.

After a steady two weeks of several hours a day I had scores of sticky thickets rolled like barbed wire into treacherous bundles.


They looked like barricades dotted through the woodlands and I wondered who we were besieging?

As I cleared some of the upper branches the throttled tree would occasionally surprise me by collapsing at my feet no longer supported by the clambering undergrowth.

I was showered with leaves and wrestled with the lengths of green and supple creepers that whiplashed from the heights with a resounding crack before snaking to a halt on the ground causing the crows to rise up and complain loudly.

One weekend Hubs joined me and we loaded the truck with what I had gathered


and began the slow process of burning.


We fought the brambles that stuck to our clothes, drew blood on our faces and buried themselves deeply under our skin bringing to mind the Gospel story where thorns were used to crown the head of Jesus.

A fitting reminder for the fourth week in Lent.

The fire crackled and popped and burned fast and furious as we fed it with the brittle scrub.

We had to stay back lest a stray ember settled in our hair and set us alight.

Rain has once against halted my clean up job and new growth has just started to emerge calling a natural halt to my endeavors.

I will leave the squirrels to nibble on the new growth and turn my attention to raking the woodland clearings.

I will plan where to place benches and swings for relaxing in beneath the canopy.

I will imagine dells of bluebells, snow drops and crocuses planted in the fall to enchant us next year.

Already I can hear the wind more clearly soughing in the branches as it races, unhindered across the treetops.


After this morning’s violent rainstorm, my back forty could almost pass as the Jerusalem William Blake envisioned “…in England’s green and pleasant land.”



Share this:

No comments so far!

Leave a Comment