It’s raining – quelle surprise – and I’m stood looking at our hedgerow after a day’s winter pruning. I should really be stood looking at one of the vines and hacking bits off it, but the enormous hedgerow/line of overgrown trees that runs between our land and the lane is offering a not inconsiderable amount of shelter from the gale that threatens to blow me off the side of our hill. From my vantage point on the lane, which is below the level of the land, it’s easy to see quite how overgrown it has become in the time since someone last took one of those tractor flail trimming jobs to it. We do clear the bits of our hedgerow that grow into and obstruct the lane*, but it hadn’t been looked at for a long time when we bought the land in 2007. By now the hail is coming in sideways and the recycling is making its own way to the recycling centre, so I will hide for a bit longer. That is, investigate the hedgerow more thoroughly.
*We deduced that, as much of the hedgerow on our way up to the vineyard appears never to have been attended to, it might be the responsibility of the landowners to keep it in check. This is in fact the case. Besides which, we have a vested interest to keep on top of our bit of hedgerow as our poor old car has enough abuse thrown at it rumbling up and down our home made driveway on a daily basis to have the further indignity of doing battle with trees on the lane. (Lucy is already on first name terms with the employees at Kwik Fit who have replaced pretty much every single part of it.)
Having the responsibility of the stewardship of the land has taught us that ignoring problems almost never causes them to go away (I have also been trying this with Simon Cowell for many years, and the problem appears to be getting worse). For this reason, we decided that it was time to take this particular problem in hand and do battle with the hedgerow before it became a problem that necessitated professional help to remedy (alert readers will have noticed that we avoid this at all costs). It was time for action.
And it was this sequence of events that lead to me being stood in the garden last week awaiting our friend and unpaid employee for the day who is a veritable expert on all things tree shaped. Specifically, he has a bit of a wood of his own and owns a chainsaw. I was especially excited about the chainsaw as I have chopped down exactly two largish trees in my life, with an axe and, having discovered that chainsaws were invented for a very good reason, was not keen to repeat my ordeal.
During our exciting day’s work of hacking away at the undergrowth and cutting back the trees so far that it would save us from having to attend to it again for years to come, I made a number of observations. Firstly I noted that chainsaws are incredibly efficient. We were knocking trees down at such a rate that it was a full time job for one of us to clear the lane as the trees were deposited onto it, while the other operated the saw and checked that we weren’t endangering the existence of man or machine below. I was in fact that impressed with the machine that we bought one this very morning, and I shall be having a bash with it the moment that I can think of a suitable excuse to down secateurs and play truant from the winter pruning again.
The second observation that I made came to mind about half way through the day and is sort of associated with the first. Do you know what the flip side of efficient machines is? They do things quickly. And do you know how long it takes to make the mother of all messes with a chainsaw? Not very long. I had absolutely no idea that a smallish line of trees could make such a mess. In retrospect this should have been obvious, as when compared to the sky in which the visible bits of trees mostly live, they are going to look fairly small in comparison. When one compares those same trees to our driveway, they are very large. Thankfully I now have a chainsaw, some matches to light a fire to burn the small bits and, provided that I don’t kill myself with either, we should be well on the way to making the all-new instant hedgerow along the driveway disappear in short order (assuming it ever stops raining!).
The final observation (that doesn’t involve lots of profanity and us dropping a tree in front of the car of a man who was in fact surveying the lane for overgrow trees in what was nearly the mother of all ironic accidents) was just how much mess people leave behind them in the countryside. I honestly can’t understand the thought process that gets you to: “This is nice empty countryside, the only thing that could improve this vista is a MacDonald’s packet and an empty can of Coke”. We found the most amazing things in our hoover of hedgerow, including some his and hers underwear and a pair of socks. A leap of faith got me as far as the pants, but socks?