Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

Throughout Seattle, there are groups of people working to remove blackberry vines, morning glories and ivy from parks and Greenbelts. The empty lot that is behind my house is in of one of the Greenbelts. During the last three decades, the invasive plants have completely taken over the once beautiful land. So many trees have died.

There have been times in the past where I cleared parts of the lot, but since I can’t take out all of the roots, they, of course, always come back. Lately removing the blackberry vines and other invasives from the lot has become a passion for me. A friend and I have worked many hours cutting them down.

This is my favorite tree on that property. (It is actually two different trees, and each one of them split into two trunks so there are actually four trunks, but I still see them all as one tree.)

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One of my first priorities was to remove the blackberry vines and ivy from that tree. I have done that enough times over the years that was a fairly easy goal for me to accomplish. For the first time, however, I noticed that there was a branch on the north side of the tree that was so long that it disappeared into the blackberries. I resolved to free the branch.

But how would I even get to it? There was no easy course.

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I planned my route to the buried branch and committed to free it the next day.

Early Sunday morning, I set out to accomplish my goal. First, I went to the storage shed to pick up the tools I needed.

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As I started to open the shed door, I walked face first into a big spider web. Yuck. I backed up to see where the spider was. What I saw was a yard spider that was bigger than any I’ve ever seen before.

I had been looking for a subject for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest. The moment I came face to face with that spider was the moment that I knew I had my subject for the photo story. Freeing this tree branch was indeed going to be a Quest.

I picked up my tools and then headed towards the stairs that go to the lower lot.

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Shortly thereafter, I again walked into an unseen spider.

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Okay, it is time for me to get conscious.

  • Pay attention to what I’m doing.
  • Carry the hedge shears downward.
  • Watch where I’m walking so I don’t slide on the uneven ground as I walk down the hill.
  • Don’t step in a hole.
  • Make sure I have my phone safely stored in case I need help.

I inched my way down the hill, drawing ever closer to the tree. As I descended, I appreciated how much clearing we have already done.

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Cutting a path through the blackberry vines, I drew closer and closer to my destination. It wasn’t just a matter of cutting down the upper layer of blackberries. If I opened a hole in the mass, I could see that many of the old ones were in layers three feet deep. I had to be careful not to accidentally put my foot into a drop off.

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Finally, I got close enough to the branch that I could begin cutting the vines that were holding it down.

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I worked diligently, oblivious of the time.

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I was excited to see that there were many signs of life on the smaller branches that were offshoots of the larger one.

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When I thought I had freed it, I discovered that there was still one part was still trapped. I couldn’t even see where it ended. It occurred to me that none of the other branches on the tree were anywhere near that long, so I decided to cut it just under the areas of growth.

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When I made the cut, the branch rose ten to twelve feet into the air.

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Free, free at last!

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Mission accomplished. As I started to leave the area, I saw so many other trees that need to be liberated from the blackberries. I recommitted to come back and do more of that work, but this quest was enough for one day.

Time to go home.

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Before I knew it, I was nearing my back deck.

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My quest was complete and it was time for me to have a well deserved rest.

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11 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

  1. I so enjoyed the details of your quest and the photos that accompanied it! How satisfying I imagine it felt for you to see the branch freely bounce up. I liked your naming and describing the mindfulness you brought to your walk, the way you were careful and present with your environment. The meditative quality this contained. I imagine it felt so satisfying to see the branch freed. It all felt very rich to me. The spiders adding a certain aliveness and a slight shudder to the experience, I am glad you included them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I love to experience and write about these types of journeys. Tomorrow afternoon Ramana and I are going to work on the land and in the morning a neighbor is going to come over and take a look and answer some questions for me.

      It was tempting to show photos of some of the other trees, but will be another post.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t had particularly sore muscles but I’m usually very tired the next day. I think part of the reason I’m usually not sore is that the blackberry vines aren’t heavy and because I just make piles and have my friend remove the piles! I sure have plenty of scratches from the blackberry thorns that go through my heavy blue jeans.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I asked for, and received, a pair of blackberry-thorn proof gloves for my birthday. It’s been a lot easier to gather and prepare food for my BUGS with those gloves.

    So ironic that you are on a mission to be rid of those vines and I find myself desperately in search of them for bug food, especially in the winter!

    As for the spiders??? YIKES! My ongoing therapeutic challenge!!

    That one looks as big as that door knob!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No thanks. I have to be absolutely sure they have not been sprayed or exposed to a lot of car exhaust. Remember that first time one of my bugs died and I had to consult you?? Insecticide death! These days, I usually can find organic and safe branches at the Bellevue Community Gardens (http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pdf/Parks/community_gardens_2016.pdf) Had to get permission fromt he Ranger Station there. They loved the Bug Story.

        Liked by 1 person

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