I’m pretty much a live and let live sort of person. There are very few living things that raise my ire. There are a few people who are definitely ire-worthy, but on the whole, I’m a love ‘all creatures, great and small’ kinda gal. However, today I am filled with triumphant jubilation. I am looking out the window shouting: “Die mo$^(&(#^ker, DIE!!! I won’t tell you what those cryptic characters stand for because it is language unbefitting a lady, not that I’ve been compared to one of those rarefied creatures of late.
What gives me such joy while watching this much-anticipated extermination? What is it that pushes me to such hatred? Bamboo. Now, this isn’t the pretty whispy, grassy sort of bamboo you see in lovely Japanese paintings. This is the scourge of many a yard in New England. I think it’s pretty scourge-y in other places around the world, too. Another name for this unrelenting monster of a plant is Japanese Knotweed. Around here it’s just ‘bamboo’ and it is spoken of in tones that are proof of the power it has over us. Some people let loose exasperated curses when describing it. Others are in awe of the tenacity of the thing. Most people just hang their heads, knowing full well that they have been defeated. Bamboo is like that. It takes hold and never lets go.
But here I am, happily watching a backhoe dig into the heart of my mortal enemy. I’m overjoyed to see the plants removed and shoved into a hole the size of a double-decker bus. I am beyond thrilled to see my newly-beloved backhoe operator cover the ruthless stems with rocks and boulders. Thinking about the eradication of a plant that has plagued my family for decades fills me with well-justified glee. And yet, I wonder if this will be the end of the great battle.
You might be thinking all of this is rather silly. Why not just pull it up and be done with it? Yeah, well, you’d be wrong. There is no getting rid of it. I remember when I was a kid, my Dad was at war with bamboo and I knew he would defeat it. My Dad could do anything. That stuff was going to be history, I just knew it. I watched him try everything to get rid of it. He cut it and pulled it and dug it…for years on end. It kept coming back. I knew it was a lost cause when he liberally doused it with gasoline and set it on fire. These days, that sort of action would be highly frowned upon for good reason, but this inflammatory episode happened well before the EPA existed. It didn’t matter. Dad might just as well have given it fertilizer and a pep talk because it came back with a vengeance. He never won that war. It was still happily growing when we moved away. The new place didn’t have the curse and Dad died a bamboo-free man, and for that I am thankful. Bamboo wasn’t done with me, though. Not by a long shot.
When Bill and I bought this house we started assessing the yard and figuring out what we might want to plant. While we were walking around the place, I saw the shoots. I won’t say that my reaction was one of terror, but my not saying it doesn’t mean it wasn’t something very closely related. It was my turn to put on the battle gear and face the enemy. It’s been three decades of cutting and pulling and digging and I am still plagued with the stuff…until today.
So here I am, sitting here with the scent of diesel fuel wafting about, dreaming of bamboo decimation. But really, who am I kidding? Even if the backhoe rips it out by the roots, it’s unlikely that it will get every last bit of it. If there is one tiny shred of a rhizome left, it will come back. So maybe even though this whole backhoe thing sounds like overkill, I really think it might be under-kill. I told the backhoe guy to rip off the steps, pull out the cement landing and do everything possible to kill the enemy. My exact words were: “Do whatever it takes to get rid of the stuff, short of making the foundation cave in.” I wasn’t kidding…and he knew it.
Even if it does come back, at least most of the roots will be gone and…and…then it hit me. A feeling of panicky dread descended. Not only could the bamboo return to its original location, it might escape the double-decker bus-sized hole, too! Just because the roots and stems had been buried and covered with rocks and boulders, that didn’t mean it wouldn’t find a way to come back from the rubble. Nooooo… It would be just like bamboo to stay in its grave just long enough for me to become complacent and then resurrect itself into some sort of photosynthetic horror. It’s going to be a zombie plant, I just know it! Oh hell, the Zombie Plant Apocalypse is coming! At least I don’t have to worry about zombie bamboo eating my brain. I lost that years ago.