There are very few truly untouched places of wild beauty in this world.
The remotest reaches of Antarctica, home to sagely penguins and the most hermetic of research scientists.
The deepest cave systems of the earth, where the CHUDS and the Molemen battle for dominance.
The unknowable fathoms of the ocean, where giant squids give the biggest, most unwelcome hugs to deep-diving whales.
And my grandmother’s backyard.
Yes, I took a trip to the mainland for the first time in two years, to go see my 婆婆 at her Vancouver home. There’s a bit of a rite of passage that must be performed at these visits, rare as they are for the grandkids like me, especially in the COVID times.
At 101, my grandmother is still sharp as a tack, with incredible memory recall, and she’s still quite capable of getting around the house and taking care of herself. It’s pretty damn impressive. I’m 35 and I struggle to keep my bachelor pad from accruing roving stacks of dishes and dust bunny colonies.
One thing understandably beyond my 婆婆’s abilities, however, is the garden.
In its heyday the garden was glorious. My grandparents grew vegetables, fruit, glorious flowers and trees and more. And it still is glorious, but would be less glorious in the vein of Butchart Gardens and more glorious in the vein of the mighty Amazon Rainforest.
I’m quite convinced an entire civilization could crop up in the veritable forest that has overtaken my grandmother’s backyard. Tour groups have been sent into that backyard, never to be seen again.
That’s where we whippersnappers come in. Deployed with clippers and shears, the younger generations from my parents on down are sent into this jungle to hack back the ever-encroaching nature, hopefully stalling its progress from overtaking the (incredibly patient) neighbours’ properties.
To give you a concrete idea of how real this issue is: my sister and her husband were at my grandmother’s house in August. They, too, performed the visitation ritual of cutting back the jungle-garden.
I just visited in September. Nearly everything they’d cut down, and extra in some places, had grown back.
I even encountered signs of their passage, like I was tracing a failed expedition. There were cut-off points on the trees, showing where branches had been cut down earlier. There were bent plants where people had desperately stood, fighting back the mad growth.
And still, it grows.
Yet I can’t help but respect its wild tenacity. Much like my 婆婆, now a centenarian and still trucking along, the garden persists, and is wholly out of f**ks to give. And aside from occasionally snaking over a fence or two, it’s not really a problem per se. It just…is.
And I’d be lying if there wasn’t a certain satisfaction in chopping away at plants which you know will not be permanently harmed by your actions. It’s like the plants are a boxer competing out of their weight class, and they won’t hit back, but they’ll spit out a gob of blood and a tooth or two, stare you did in the eye, and say “THAT ALL YOU GOT, BOY?”
You have to give it that.
So in a perverse way, despite the tearing of twigs at my forearms, and one branch clocking me square in the forehead (leaving a dark brown spot which has still not disappeared and should maybe be looked at), I’m looking forward to going back and having at it again.
With COVID-19 hopefully entering its last stage of destruction, and the possibility of world travel maybe more than just a wild hope, It might be nice to see some of those natural wonders. But on the other hand, I can get some epic chopping and jungling done right in the urban sprawl of Vancouver.
Who needs the wilds of the Amazon, when I have my 婆婆’s backyard.
Welcome to Ford on Fridays: a weekly column where Victoria Buzz staff writer Tim Ford offers his thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of the perfect joke.
This column is for comedic purposes only. Please feel free to send feedback, thoughts, and [constructive] criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org.