I have changed my mind about junipers. I used to like them. Many of the juniper bushes on our four acres are dead, so they are brown and not pretty anymore. They are prickly. They have sent out their deep roots so new bushes have sprung up, and these are choking out cedar trees and white pines and flowering plums, all of which I like better. They have insidiously invaded most of our land, so the junipers must go.
But here’s the problem. Removing one juniper bush takes about five hours. In the process these branches lurch us off balance, bruise us, scratch us. We cut away branches, dig roots, then struggle against the stump and the tangled mess of roots that are too big to manage by hand.
We pile all the branches, then load them, then haul them away to the town’s green recycling center, which might mean attaching Dave’s new trailer. ( This might also take a little time.)
Meanwhile, we have missed an opportunity to paddle our kayaks in the calm waters of the late afternoon. Or, we have not strolled into the local pub to chat with our new neighbors. Dave has yet to use his fishing poles. I have been slack with my writing and my walking. Wildflowers have emerged this week, and I have missed them.
Those of you who own property are surely not surprised that the land has needs, takes work, requires time; you could rightly laugh at my naivete. And most days I love that I can work in the clean air and listen to the birds chatter and feel the sun or mist or breeze on my face.
But even in paradise there are choices: big ones and small ones. Adam and Eve had both kinds, and so do we. Even in the days before their arrogance made them think they were big, surely they, our first parents, also had to make choices about when to stop planting or pruning. They too had to learn when it was right to break for the day to eat pomegranates and cherries or plunge laughing for a skinny dip into a silver lake on a green afternoon.
Dave, always wiser than I am, has asked us to ignore the juniper bushes this week. And although this feels like a small choice, I think, it’s actually a pretty big one. In this new life, in this new place, there are, as they say, people to meet, places to see, and things to do.
There are things far more important than fighting junipers.