It's warm in the sunlight outside and I've finally begun, after six years of thinking about it, to dismantle the old grape arbor. I tried and tried and tried to resurrect it, because I had these fevered dreams of sitting under my grape arbor (I'd have had to squnch down real low and sit in a teeny doll chair, since most of it's not more than 4' off the ground) sipping Chianti, maybe listening to Puccini, snacking on a little fresh mozzarella. Alas, these aren't my dreams at all. They're dream remnants from whichever vaguely Italian person put the damn thing up in the first place, probably in the 70s, when grape arbors were fashionable. I've never used the grapes, they're Concords, or Muscadines; I can't tell the difference, because I loathe them both equally. They have thick skins and huge pits and are an unpleasant mixture of bitterness and oversweet. I don't want to make grappa or grape jelly, and the birds get most of them anyway. I wonder, sometimes, what the person with Italian dreams who put the arbor in did with the grapes, if they ever even harvested them.
The grape arbor, like most of my yard, is horribly overgrown with pernicious honeysuckle. It's easy, if a little counterintuitive, to pull it out this time of year, since it's the only green thing around. And easy isn't the word, really. Is there a word that describes yes, I can find the damn stuff and cut it down to the root but it fucking comes back in a month thicker than ever as if it was thanking me for the pruning I never get around to giving the roses? This year I'm spraying the cut root ends with Round Up. So many an organic gardener has fallen: Japanese honeysuckle, poison ivy and whatever the hell those demonic thornbushes are.
The person who built the grape arbor did it with upended round landscape timbers, attached to each other with that kind of coated green wire that's more often used for clotheslines. The wire was inexpertly wound around the tops of the timbers; that makes me sad, because clutzy yet hopeful gardening strategies are familiar to me. Most of the knots had come undone in the last thirty five years. It was harder to pull the timbers out of the ground than I thought it would be but at last I got three of them out and now three large holes are sitting there by the roundup-ed stumps of honeysuckle that I hope will die on it's own. The yard looks different: bigger, wider, more yard-like. It's time to dig up the vegetable garden and haul in big bags of compost and manure. It's time to mulch. It is time to clean out old vines.
The suicide next door's apartment is up for rent and the landlord has hauled the furniture to the curb. I take the dog on a wide berth around it; I don't want any suicidal bookshelves in my house. The landlord, who looks melancholic anyway, stands by the door and smokes meditatively. We don't speak: we are not friends; I called the city on him a few years ago hoping to stop his mad construction. I wonder why he is clearing out the suicide's apartment, and what he is going to do with the cardboard boxes he is loading into the back of his blue pickup.
A friend of mine in Hendersonville once wanted some bamboo in her yard and set out to "borrow" some from a roadside stand she had admired. The woman in the house by it came out; my friend thought, oh hell, busted. No, the woman was there to warn her: "You'll never get rid of it." she said, "I cut them down and cut them down and go out and pour bleach down their little throats, they won't die." I want some of this bamboo, the kind another friend told me would uproot the road in a year if I planted it, to shield me from the suicide next door, to replace the grape arbor, to give me a place to walk (probably bent over, I know) while I sip green tea and write short poems to an emperor far away.