March 14, 2007
My little strawberry patch has been through ups and downs over the past year. From feast to famine, the little vines have clung to the hard scrabble clay that makes up my backyard. Floods, droughts, exuberant dogs, none of these had a lasting effect on my strawberries. I was beating back the plants with my lawnmower by the end of last summer.
Last Spetember, I noticed a large hole in the middle of the patch. At first, I thought it was a chipmunk hole, since there was a little colony warren of holes under the patch. As the hole got bigger, my imagination stopped short of calling it a badger hole. I finally gave into the notion that I had somehow caused this. There was corrugated pipe at the bottom of that crevice.
I remembered a yarn spun to me over the back fence by my neighbor. He’s a stern fellow, a retired grave digger, whose two favorite things happen to be watching and talking. Since digging was a lifetime interest, he was happy to relate to me the time, two owners before me, when plastic pipes were run under the ground to the stream behind our houses. “Let’s face it, water runs better when it runs downhill.”
“I can see what you did wrong from way over here. Let’s face it, you dug a hole right over one of those pipes, and your whole patch is slowly draining away into the stream.” By tilling a little too deep while planting my strawberries, I created a black hole in my backyard.
Luckily, some of the strawberry plants escaped into the next patch over. I left a tarp over that spot to kill off all the grass. then I just persuaded some of the strawberry runs into the new area. I’m going to have a busy spring restoring order to my backyard universe.