Building the Beach

At the far end of our property the otherwise tall, well cobbled embankment that stands between us and flooding disappears and the land flattens out for about 200 feet. It is the perfect situation for a “beach”, if beaches existed on Mars’ red soil. Apparently I’m not the only one who thought so, because after fighting my way through blackberry brambles along with Sycamore, Cottonwood and Locust saplings I found a rusted length of sewer piping set into the earth as a bench.

Standing by the bench and looking back I almost gave up. Fifty feet of vicious, tangled blackberry vines and two dozen small trees had to go if I was going to get my beach. Then I looked up. Hanging over my head from one of my trash saplings was a hummingbird nest complete with Mama hummingbird. Okay, one dozen and eleven trash saplings.

So armed with my trusty loppers and bow saw, along with a rusty pair of hedge trimmers and a bill-hooked lopper I found in the barn, I started hacking. I started at the path and worked my way to the pipe.

Four hours later my nieces and their parents found me on my cleared beach. I had just felled the largest of the trees, a 12 foot tall sycamore. (I’m really good with a bow saw.)

As her mother and father strolled painlessly down the open area, elder niece looked around in awe. “Wow, we couldn’t even walk here before,” she said.

Her sister, ever devoted to the details, looked down at my legs and said, “You’ve got blood.”

I did. It was my own fault, because I unwisely chose to wear shorts for this task. Did you know that wherever a blackberry cane touches wet beach sand, it roots? Thank heavens for that hedge trimmer I found! I used it to whack the canes off at sand level. Of course, I walked through as many as I cut and the thorns tore through everything they touched. I also apparently came into contact with a spider. It’s an impressive welt.

It was worth it. That afternoon we all went down onto the beach and enjoyed a pain-free space. Even better, the pile of greens for my new industrial strength compost heap is amassed. I can’t wait for the tractor to work so we can drag it up to the new garden area and get it cooking. I wonder if Ed will let me fill the back of the pick up with Starbucks coffee grounds for my browns? That’s how I build my compost heaps: 1 part greens, 1 part free Starbucks coffee grounds and 1 part shredded paper. (All my old manuscripts have been recycled into compost.) Of course, I have to don hazardous waste gear to put the coffee grounds into the heap. I’m allergic to coffee, and even though the coffee grounds are used there’s still enough caffeine in them to set my heart to pitter-patting. The first time I used the grounds I didn’t wear gloves. I didn’t sleep for twenty-four hours. Yikes! And people drink that stuff?

I’ve already added my first compost wine to the fledgling pile in the orchard. I’m trying really hard to like Arizona wines, but so far the only thing I’ve considered drinkable is one Sauvignon Blanc from Javalina Leap. But, even I agree that I’m a wine snob. I just know what I like, like say a Benessere Sangiovese or their Chico’s Port. Now there are wines that will never hit the compost heap.

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