Wedding Weeds

The weekend was fine and sunny. We were swimming, Margot was swimming and probably the Cornwell's were swimming. But as the week begins, we've had two days of intense fog drip and the occasional shower. There are puddles along the Sisar Trail beneath overhanging oaks that condense the mist.

The chaparral around the house is at its most stunningly beautiful. The bunch grasses are rimed with moisture; the deer weed, now blooming, is bent down with the weight of the dew and the oaks are green-black against the leaden sky. It's a good week for weeding.

My focus has been on mustard (Brassica species) which has re-colonized areas behind the garage and thistles (Cirsium species) which spring up wherever there is disturbed ground.

The Italian thistle (Carduus pyncocephalus), right at the moment is a beautiful thing, tall and slender, it would not be out of place on Ipenema, (but, it must be said, it is a little prickly in disposition). Crowned by a deep purple and silky soft tuft it is the belle of the ball: but die it must and there are a variety of means at one's disposal.

Its primary, and perhaps only flaw is its alien status. I would be willing to forgive its thorny nature - after all we give poison oak a pass - but as a seed stowaway aboard some (probably many) transatlantic clipper(s), secreted in straw bales or in animal feed, in clothing or in baggage it is part of a broad homogenization of the world's plants whereby the hardiest of them build a global empire of weed patches each identical to the other like a chain of vegetal McDonalds. I am committed, on my little acreage, to forstall such an occurance.

I was out weed wacking on Sunday, thistling while I worked - hitting the kill switch on the weed wacker occasionally and venturing forth to eradicate some thistles. Smaller ones can be pulled out of the ground directly with little resistance. Larger specimens require pulaskying - sometimes a series of wacks to the base of the stalk or just beneath the surface of the soil to sever the trunk. The wilier plants take advantage of the moisture that drips down a rock and wedge themselves into a lithic crevice. Here the axe side of the pulasky comes in handy and the adjacent rock becomes the strike against which the stalk is cut. The weed wacker itself is of some use for the more tender thistles. Earlier in the season I tried spraying them in particularly rocky areas with Round Up. It is hard to judge my success because it was not total.There they now are, wedged in amongst the rocks gaining territory in what at first blush seems like the least propitious of circumstances.

I spoke with Lorenz this morning and he views the rain as a beneficence (his word). He told me that he had recently observed a gopher snake backing up into its hole in the ground. Yes, snakes can slither backwards! Reconnoitering before starting work recently, I saw a Wandering Garter snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans) in the clover meadow, beautiful in its tightly checkered green, yellow and silver skin.

Apart from mentioning our individual neighbors, and Lorenz who is Margot's estate manager, I have yet to post anything specifically about community. I haven't been avoiding that arena but truth to tell we haven't had a barn raisin' in these parts for a while. But what we did have on Saturday, while the weather was more seasonal, was a wedding.

Although not specifically an Upper Ojai event, (it was held at Libbey Bowl with a reception at the beautiful east end estate of Tom and Cathryn Krause) there were significant contributions from the upper valley community most notably Valerie Levett, who was a producer of the event and maid of honor and John Perry who sang at the reception; we were present and made a contribution to the cake, and Kit Stolz was on clean-up duty at the Bowl - a duty I imagine he was allocated in a spirit of reverse nepotism (he's married to Val, the producer).

Now in the normal course of events weddings require planners not producers, but this was no ordinary wedding: it was a full blown semi-autobiographical wedding musical with a theatrically trained Universal-Life minister who sprinkled fairy dust whenever the 'plot' needed a little juice and a talking dog as interlocutor. There were visits too, from Hermes, a mongol horde and dancing jello bowls (don't ask...). In any event the deed was done in hugely entertaining fashion.

It was, as almost all weddings are, an affecting experience; and having my emotions tugged at by the bride and groom (Deb and Chris of Theater 150) and their perilous progress towards true romance, I was perhaps in a vulnerable condition when the minister made the appropriate reference to the Great State of California under whose aegis the marriage was formally sanctioned - in any event, my heart was filled to choking with the pride, joy and thankfulness of living in this remarkable part of the world (thistles notwithstanding).