Wednesday, April 28, 2010

they're at it again


You can always tell the good weather has arrived in Portland when the winter-fattened inhabitants come out to jog along the sidewalk of Terwilliger, a long stretch of tree lined road we think of as our driveway, situated a couple of hundred feet above the city and the Willamette River. Sweat drenched, huffing and puffing, most of them don't run the course more than once but there's another group who've proven to be a lot more committed. They are known as the 'Friends of Terwilliger' and just to keep things simple I'll refer to them as the FOT's.

The FOT's have a mission, a daunting one, for it's their intention to remove every leaf and root of the english ivy that was planted in city gardens long ago. The climate here is so mild and wet that it wasn't long before this ubiquitous plant spread itself far and wide. It invaded the parks including Portland's Forest Park, the biggest in the city and generally recognized to be the largest urban park in the country. I don't want you to get the mistaken idea that Stumptown's founders began with the intention of leaving a pristine wilderness as a legacy for generations to come. Once they removed as many of the original trees as they could reach they recognized the land up here is too precipitous for building and the woods eventually grew back. Except for a small portion allowed for the Zoo, the Rose Gardens and the Japanese Garden, which are all very pretty, the rest is wild and covered in moss and ivy.

Every spring weekend the FOT's arrive dressed in gardening duds, carrying digging tools and sacks. Sometimes a crew sets up just behind our place but most of them, and they're never many, never enough, set up along Terwilliger and begin hacking their way through the ivy that grew back during the winter.. since the last time they were here. It grows up every tree and keeps company with the moss. The FOT's are relentless, determined and tired by lunchtime on Saturdays. Then they go home and the english ivy grows.

As for me, I still prefer less exertion - like this:



:-)

14 comments:

  1. Love the drawing, thought at first you'd been inspired by Hieronymous Bosch!

    Oh that ivy is a tough one, I'm forever tearing it out on our property, barely keeping it back, along with a few other invasives! I'm sure they would cover everything in a couple of years otherwise, thanks to our PNW climate eh.

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  2. I can feel the effects of that recently energizing Portland weather already with your wonderfully descriptive words complemented by an equally interesting drawing ( very engaging )to go along with that rendition of poisoning pigeons in the park – seems as if it all swinging along in time to the same grand tune. Busting out all over. But all that ivy reminds of the song Poison Ivy- to also ponder how much English ivy has taken over – do they ever tire of pulling it all out and who is the victor?

    I have never met a really happy jogger yet either – walkers fine –but joggers always seems to me be ether out painfully out of breath or flushed or on the verge of being very uncomfortable or even exhausted don’t you think?
    Best wishes

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  3. When we lived in West Linn we had to hack it off the trees as it was strangling them. In Nevada, we love the stuff, as it is next to impossible to have much of it.

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  4. marja-leena - The drawing is a couple of years old (before I started the b&w Adventures) and looks very stiff to me now but I'm glad to know it kind of worked.

    lindsay - The english ivy always wins around here. You can get rid of it in your garden with lots of regular effort but never in the woods.

    Yes, I'm convinced jogging isn't good for people. It's only a matter of time til their knees give out.

    nancy - It's an unfortunately common story that people bring familiar species of plants and animals to new climates with devastating results.

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  5. i think the ivy will survive (along with the cockaroaches) after we blow ourselves up.
    but you have to give the fots credit for being persistent. i don't imagine digging at ivy is a pleasant way to spend a weekend (its on a par with poisoning pigeons, i would think).
    so what they *should* do is plant indoor-outdoor carpeting and plastic trees instead.
    isn't it better when you can have "the real thing" in a can so it doesn't spoil?

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  6. sera - I do admire their persistence in the face of truly overwhelming odds. It always makes me a little sad to see them hard at it but that doesn't mean I'm about to join the effort. Sometimes I make myself sad with my cynicism. I wasn't at all sure about posting this rather mean-spirited drawing done a couple of years ago.

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  7. I didn't know Sideshow Bob was also a resident of Portland.

    Hell with the ivy, if only we could find a solution for the most invasive species of all. ;-)

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  8. what a great pic to go with fighting ivy...we had it growing on a little farmhouse we lived in for 10 years and i was never so glad to leave a house....that stuff is alive in the worst way and it never stops nor the creatures that love to live in it stop coming.....almost creepy how it never stops....last i looked it had swallowed the house whole...it was a very small house but still.
    xoxoxo

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  9. randal - Like everywhere else Pdx has some interesting characters.

    I agree that ivy, or even kudzu, isn't the worst.

    linda - Sometimes I wonder if someone somewhere once put a sprig in a window box and it just crawled up the side of their house and away.

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  10. In Chicago as soon as the weather warmed up to a balmy 49 degrees the streets filled with joggers, bikers, gardeners and invitations for BBQ's would bloom with the same enthusiasm and eagerness as the daffodils. I miss those signs of Spring.
    Enjoy the beautiful Portland days.
    xxoo

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  11. The ivy always wins! But an A+ for their effort. Must be humorous to watch.

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  12. belette - Yes, Springtime is wonderful but I'd rather do anything than try the Sisyphissian (?) task of removing ivy from a wilderness :-)

    pagan - It is fun to watch silly human tricks :-)

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  13. I love the drawing. Friends of Terwilliger? Is this another source of names for a certain Matt Groening... (or was it the 5000 Fingers of Dr T?)

    I love Ivy but it is invasive

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  14. jams - Yes, Terwilliger was another Portland name Matt Groening had such a good time with.

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